About six months ago the Straz Center for the Performing Arts (formerly Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) received a grant to bring in a seasoned trainer to teach a handful of locals all about Audio Description. Though AD does not yet have an official certification
process, many people are working towards one and professional standards have been in place for years - such as not talking over the actor's lines, using six words or less, etc.
I was among the first class to be schooled, trained on Fiddler on the Roof and Stomp. Although Stomp had no lines to step on, it presented another challenge: which actions do you describe when there are so many?
Luckily, I was well prepared. For my audition, my husband had recommended that I practice the "Make 'Em Laugh" scene from Singing in the Rain. Overwhelmed at first, I think I did pretty well.
Describing is more than showing up the day of the performance to do the play-by-play. We watch the show at least once to take notes on anything seen on stage, from the lights and sets and costumes to the eye color of the actors. These "preshow notes" are then read 30 minutes before curtain time and again during intermission, so it's important for those who come to a show for AD to be in their seats early.
Below is the description I gave for the Queen of Hearts in the current production of "Wonderland."
Though all the senses can be aroused at the theater, thanks to Audio Description nothing has to be left out for anyone who can't actually see the show.
The next AD show at the Straz is South Pacific on January 16th.