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Juliet Stevenson. Photo by: Trevor Leighton

Donmar Warehouse to reopen temporarily in August with sound installation voiced by Juliet Stevenson

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 14 July 2020, Last Updated 15 July 2020

The Donmar Warehouse will be reopening temporarily from 3 to 22 August with a socially distanced sound installation.

Entitled Blindness, the new installation is based on the dystopian novel by Nobel-prize winning José Saramago, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Walter Meierjohann.

Olivier Award-winning stage and screen actor Juliet Stevenson (Death And The Maiden, The Doctor, Measure For Measure) will voice the Storyteller/Doctor’s wife in this hour-long gripping story of an unimaginable global pandemic and it’s profoundly hopeful conclusion.

The story will be played on headphones and will feature an immersive sound design using binaural technology by Ben and Max Ringham.

Running four times a day to a limited number of customers from 3 – 22 August, the ticketed installation will have seating arranged 2m apart in accordance with social distancing guidelines in a transformed Donmar Warehouse, now featuring atmospheric lighting. All visitors will be required to wear a face covering throughout their visit (medical exemptions permitted) as will all Donmar staff.

Audio-described content will be available at every installation from Friday 7 August, and there will be a captioned installation at 2pm on Saturday 15 August.  An audio-described or captioned digital version of the installation will also be available for purchase for those not able to attend in person.

Production Consultant (blind and partially blind experience) Professor Hannah Thompson from Royal Holloway said: “The Donmar Warehouse has a strong track record in supporting visually impaired audiences to enjoy their productions. I am pleased that I have been invited to support the creative team to ensure the Blindness sound installation has accessibility built into the experience for all visitors.

“José Saramago’s novel is a complex portrayal of blindness, and the Donmar is exploring how blindness can lead to different ways of being in the world and an appreciation that sight isn’t as necessary for understanding as we may think. In fact this installation will show that blindness can lead to rich and immersive aesthetic experiences.”

Speaking about reopening the Donmar Warehouse for this special socially distanced sound installation, Artistic Director Michael Longhurst said: “Reading Simon’s version of Saramago’s extraordinary allegory about a government’s and society’s response to a pandemic, I knew this was a story we had to tell immediately. With indoor live performance not yet permitted, and social distancing measures reducing capacity, I am proud that the Donmar has risen to the challenge of producing work at this time.

“This immersive sound installation makes a virtue of these restrictions inspiring our artists to find the apposite form for this story.   Utilising Juliet Stevenson’s astonishing talent as a recording artist, and the binaural wizardry of the Ringham Brothers, it re-centres and celebrates this event as a non-visual experience.  Our theatre has lain empty for so long, so I am delighted we can gather there for a unique and accessible experience after the isolation of Covid-19.  I am so grateful to all of our loyal and passionate supporters who have made this possible through their continued generosity and incredible kindness during these testing times.”

Mark your diaries as tickets will go on sale on the Donmar Warehouse website from 12pm on Friday 17 July for public members while Donmar members can book from 12pm on Wednesday 15 July.

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