In what has been described as a first in known history for regional theatre, the much anticipated Les Misérables production that's coming to the Little Theatre this month will feature captions.
It's what director Lyn Townsend said is a very positive step for the Parkes Musical and Dramatic Society, whose biggest focus is providing an experience for all members of the community.
The decision to include captions in this production follows a similar initiative just two months earlier when the Society held an autism friendly relaxed performance with Shrek The Musical Junior for people with autism, learning disabilities and a sensory disposition.
"Our Society is always looking for ways to foster inclusivity for people who have disabilities or who would otherwise struggle to understand musical productions," Lyn said.
"Captions are a relatively new technology, usually only offered in selected professional theatres but after extensive research and lots of hard work, our Society is able to offer this at our Les Miserables production.
"This will mean those with hearing impairment or who have difficulty understanding the sung dialogue will easily be able to follow the story."
Lyn said a lot of research has gone into how the captions would work, what program was needed and setting it all up.
"It was a bit of a process," she said.
"Work also went into its positioning so that it's not too distracting to those who don't need them, getting the fonts right and typing out the entire script."
And given that Little Theatre is a small theatre, there are limitations.
The captions will be projected on the wall above the stage and will be visible for seats in rows A to J, so those needing to use the captions are best to purchase seats in these sections.
A special caption team of three has been appointed - in the form of Graham MacRaild, Kate Townsend and Emily McHugh-Douglas - who will cue the lines when they are needed throughout the near-three-hour performance.
"It's very intensive and they'll need to know the script well," Lyn said.
"It will give those people who need it a bit more of a positive experience.
"To our knowledge this is a first for regional theatre and we are thrilled to be leading the way in theatre inclusivity."
Dress rehearsals for Les Misérables took place on Wednesday night, with the cast performing in preview shows next week ahead of opening night.
"We're all ready to go for next Saturday," Lyn said.
Tickets are on sale now on the Parkes M&D's website - opening night is Saturday, September 14, with performances running until October 6.
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