What play shall we do this Christmas?

Students dressed in costume for a play

In January 2017, RSBC merged with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). Although we are now called RSBC, there may be some references to RLSB in the following article.

An extract from the 1971-72 edition of the RLSB Review:

Drama and the Blind Child by Margaret & Adrian Pickles

Each year at the beginning of the Autumn term, almost the first words we hear are: “What play are we doing this Christmas?” Between us we have read and discussed a dozen or more. It has to be something different from the previous year; it has to be worth all the time and energy that will be put into it, and obviously something the cast will enjoy performing.

The reading of the proposed play is announced, and those interested are invited to attend. The reading is spread over several evenings to give time for comment and discussion before a decision is made.

Each part into Braille

If the response is favourable then the next stage can begin. Each part is individually Brailled. All stage directions are ommitted; only the actors’ words and essential cues to speeches are given. This makes for easier handling, and learning of scripts, particularly for those with small parts.

The play is cast by inviting all who wish to participate to attend auditions. By this time most of them know which parts they would like to play, and are given the chance to try those and others. We listen to comments and then, with their consent, pick our cast, hoping for no rejections and not too many disappointments.

The words are then learnt by individual effort, aided by repeated readings of the play, act by act, during lunch hours. This gives confidence to poor Braille readers. Production is made easier if words are learnt ahead of direction of movements on stage, leaving the actor’s hands free.

Built-in guide lines

The setting, plotting and direction etc are the same as with any drama club, except for a thick stage cloth with its edge as a guide line two feet from the walls and front of stage. Time is given fro the cast to familiarise themselves with exits and entrances, and the carefully set stage furnishings. Help is needed with natural movements and gestures.

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