Access Denied? By Whom?

Thanks for accessing my blog! Here I recount tales, tell stories and reflect upon all things fringe theatre that comes my way. I hope to be able to promote things theatrical and can be contacted through my email on if people wish to take offence, make comment or offer advice! All will be welcomed… In the meantime all opinion is my ain… naebody else’s… You can also follow me on twitter @CommuneArts.

Access to theatre, and quality theatre at that, is not a privilege. It is a right that ought to be promoted and supported by those of us who recognise the importance of such access. The number of opportunities to get into a theatre and see work that enlightens and illuminates can be a rare thing or it can be the weekly titbit of fun at the end of a week.

Those in the d/Deaf community have, for many years, had this opportunity denied as the interpretation of performances was not a standard to which companies and buildings within the theatrical world would even aspire.

When I was a Trustee at Solar Bear Theatre Company, the Artistic Director at the time, along with many in the company, were at the forefront of changing all that. Gerry worked tirelessly to promote the idea, not just of participation in the arts for the D/deaf community but access, through establishment and promotion of the deaf theatre club to seeing things.

I was fortunate enough to be at the very first deaf theatre club event at the Tramway in Glasgow where the National Theatre of Scotland were presenting Alan Cumming in his one man Macbeth. It was a big deal.

On the night a large number of the d/Deaf community attended hoping to be able to access, through interpretation, the performance. The interpreter felt that, due to restrictions placed upon them by the company, that they were unable to interpret and we were left with surtitles.

Last weekend at the Tramway, ironically again, a deaf theatre club event for The Dark Carnival, not one but two interpreters found themselves unable to provide the interpretation they felt was necessary and withdrew. Unfortunately, surtitles were not available and a number of deaf people left the venue without access to the show.

I have heard, as you do, why these events unfolded.

The unfortunate consequence of this is that a community, for many years denied access to these theatres, were denied once again.

Pity? Appalling? Pathetic? All words I have heard whispered about what happened.

Theatres are places of artistic merit and they may not always be palaces of participation or avenues of accessibility but who is hurting who here? Do we need to be told? Probably not, but the lack of service has prompted comment – whence does it go now?