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Event - Leading Edge Technology will bring Hamlet Centre Stage for the Vision Impaired



History will be made on November 25, 2006 when a blind and vision impaired audience will have an opportunity to experience the Hart House Theatre production of Hamlet at the University of Toronto. This will be the first time in Canada, a vision impaired audience will be able to hear a rich description of the play as it is being performed on stage.

The innovative technology that is bringing Hamlet to life is called LiveDescribe. It is being developed by a team of researchers at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto with funding from Canadian Heritage. Currently, video description of pre-recorded content such as movies or television programming is available. However, video description is rarely available for live events in Canada. Using LiveDescribe and colour commentary techniques, the emotions of Hamlet will become centre stage for the blind and vision impaired audience.

LiveDescribe’s speaker Paul Leishman, who has a background in theatre and performance arts, will be working closely with Andrea Wasserman, the director of Hamlet to deliver an emotional and stirring description of Hamlet as the cast questions justice, morality, revenge, life and death. The renaissance sets, elaborate costumes and expressive facial expressions will be described as they are seen on stage. Paul’s commentary will be broadcast on a wireless FM system in the theatre. Using wireless headsets, blind and vision impaired audience members will hear the live broadcast and experience the performance as it happens. A touch tour prior to the performance will be organized so the audience members will have an opportunity to feel sets, stage, costumes and props.

 LiveDescribe is a project that was initiated in 2005. Last Spring, this groundbreaking technology was used to provide live description for the Mass Exodus Fashion Show at Ryerson University where it received many accolades from its blind audience. The team is now looking forward to introducing this technology to the Canadian Theatre. LiveDescribe is setting a new standard for the future of live events by innovating access for the blind and vision impaired.

 For tickets to the described version of Hamlet, please contact Hart House theatre at (416)-978-8849 and ask for Hamlet Described or book them online at  Special ticket pricing for audience members who are visually impaired is being offered at 8 dollars per person for a blind audience member and his/her companion. Please call the Hart House Theatre and specify your vision status to book those tickets.

For more information about this project you can contact Dr. Deborah Fels at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   or Smriti Dev at the University of Toronto at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Friday, 13 April 2007 14:39