Sovremennik’s play ‘Tell Me, People, Where is this Train Going…’ adapted for people with visual impairments

06 March 2017

On 4 March 2017 the Moscow Sovremennik Theatre and the Art, Science and Sport Charity Foundation presented the theatre’s first performance that is adapted for blind and visually-impaired audiences. The adaptation of the production is a part of the Foundation’s “Special View” Programme.

The play Tell Me, People, Where is this Train Going... was produced in 2016 with the support of the Art, Science and Sport Charity Foundation. It centres on a piercing love story written by the young Yekaterinburg playwright Anna Baturina. The main characters—sergeants Maria Nebyliza and Matvei Kravchuk—whose relationship began during the war, find themselves in what turn out to be difficult emotional circumstances in the post-war period.

The adapted play is accompanied by typhlocommentary (from the Greek typhlos—blind, and the Latin commentarius—notes, comments.) With the help of headphones, audience members hear commentaries that explain what is happening on stage. In the gaps between spoken dialogue, the typhlocommentator describes the silent actions of the actors and the changes in decorations that are taking place.

“In a way, this new social service—typhlocommentary—can help blind people ‘see.’ Typholocommentary is a succinct description of an object, a space, or an action, which would otherwise be unintelligible for a blind (or visually impaired) person without any additional audio explanation. A professionally-done typhlocommentary will help blind people in the same way that high-quality live commentary helps radio audiences understand what is happening during the broadcast of a theatre performance or a sports match,” says Sergei Nikolaevich Vanshhin, the founder of the technology and system of typhlocommentary, and the general director of the Reakomp Institue of Personnel Training for the All-Russian Association of the Blind.

National Artist of Russia Sergei Garmash commented on the Sovremennik Theatre’s first production for visually-impaired audiences:

“This are great news both for the theatre and for people with visual impairments. We will be happy if we can make the lives of people more interesting and even happier thanks to this play. I really hope that we will successfully execute this idea, and, perhaps, become an example for others. Our selection of plays with typhlocommentary will expand, and we will try to adapt all of our best productions in this way.”

Attendance of performances with typhlocommentary in the Sovremennik Theatre will be free of charge for blind and visually impaired people.

The “Special View” progamme for the support of people with impaired vision is implemented by the Art, Science and Sport Charity Foundation with the aim of treating, raising the quality of life, and overcoming the social isolation of people with visual impairments. Special attention in the programme is given to the establishment of a professional system of typhlocommentary. The widespread application of typhlocommentary will provide blind and visually impaired people with additional opportunities to fulfill their cognitive, aesthetic, and communicative needs.

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