advice | wevoices

If you are a company about to use the services of an audio 

describer, there are a few things that you should be prepared 

to do in order to make the service more enjoyable for your


The sequence of events usually goes like this;

The describers will come and see the show. 

You will provide tickets with seats that give a good clear view 

of the stage from a central point of view, not too near the 


The describers will watch the performance and take notes 

about the set, costumes and the characters.

These notes will then be recorded in the form of an audio 

introduction, that you can burn onto a CD and send to your 

customers when they book for the AD performance. 

Sometimes a web link can be made available to listen to 


This gives your patrons the opportunity to hear the notes well 

in advance and become familiar with the set, costumes and 


You provide the describer with a copy of the play script - hard 

copy or e-mail - and a DVD recording of a recent 

performance of the show.

The DVD should be filmed in one sequence giving a clear 

view of the whole of the  performance area. 

There is no need for close up shots, or following characters  

around the stage, this is not helpful to the describer. 

Just press record and let it run. 

When there are two describers working on a show it might be  

helpful to provide  a separate DVD of the first and second half 

of the show, provided there’s an interval.

The describers will then watch the dvd and write the 

description of the show alongside the play script in order to  

be as accurate as they can and, as much as possible, to 

avoid clashing with the dialogue.

The evening before the performance, the describers will 

come to the theatre early and do a sound check of the 

equipment, followed by a dry run of the show, in order to 

rehearse and listen to each other and to give each other 


You should provide a ticket that the describers can share.

On the day of the performance a touch tour can be arranged 

usually an hour and a half before curtain up in order for the 

patrons to get a sense of the space and know, physically, 

where everything is onstage. It's an opportunity to look at 

props and costume and at times, meet the actors. 

This can be invaluable for tuning in to the voices of the actors 

when they are performing. 

The touch tour would normally last twenty minutes, or so. 

The describers would liaise with front of house and company 

stage managers.

Fifteen minutes before curtain up, the audio introduction will 

be read live, for those patrons who have not heard it yet and 

in order to make sure that the headsets are all working.

Then, it's showtime!

© William Elliott 2020