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Making the show more sensory...










Circus Starr is continually striving to be the most inclusive touring Big Top show so we were delighted to team up with VocalEyes – the nationwide audio description charity – to pilot touch tours and audio described performances at several locations on the Autumn Tour.

Before show-time in Shrewsbury, the cast welcomed Toby Davey, VocalEyes Deputy Director, to the Big Top to share his experience of growing up with a visual impairment. Toby also instructed the troupe how to guide a blind or partially sighted child on a touch tour and the language to use to bring the circus experience to life.

Audio described performances were piloted in Coventry with a group from Action for Blind people, in Milton Keynes with children who are supported by Victa and in Luton with a group from Sight Concern Bedfordshire. Touch tours were also offered before the shows at Milton Keynes and Luton.

Circus Starr's Director, Neville Wilson commented:  

 “This collaboration has been a huge success. We've had rave reviews of the touch tours and the audio described shows from the children and their families. It confirms our belief that this kind of work is key to bringing to life the circus experience for our blind and partially sighted audiences.  

Toby Davey’s visual awareness training gave our artists the confidence to engage better with children who have a visual impairment and share their passion for their art as well as the traditions of circus life. The children loved experiencing what it is like to balance on a rolling globe and hearing how the show is put together from the performers themselves.

Audio describers Roz Chalmers and Jane Brambley were terrific! The children loved the humour, colour and energy with which the circus action was described. One mother told us how much pleasure her son had derived from the sharp intake of breath as one performer almost lost her footing!"

Having seen what a huge difference these extra sensory elements made to the children's enjoyment, we are now looking at ways we can realise our ambition to integrate audio description and touch tours across our tours and hope we can continue to work with VocalEyes into the future.

By Rachel Oliver on 31st October, 2016

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