many theatrical companies engage the services of trained audio
describers to enhance the theatre experience for people who are blind or
have low vision. The describer occasionally speaks "between the
lines" to describe entrances, exits, and actions to people
who cannot see them. Often, before the show and during
intermission, a describer "sets up" for the performance by detailing the
stage layout, props, characters, and costumes. There is never any
charge to the theatre patron for the use of audio description, although
the theatre may pay a fee for the service.
The typical scenario for using description would be to locate a table
in the theatre lobby where description equipment is being handed out.
You will usually be given a small hand-held receiver about the size of a
pack of cigarettes. It has an on/off switch, a volume control, and
a jack for a headset, which you will also be given. Headsets vary
in style, and you may even prefer to bring your own. Put the
headset on and turn on the receiver as soon as you get seated, as you
may find someone is describing the stage or characters for you already.
If you are lucky, the theatre will offer touch tours. View an example of Virginia Repertory's Touch Tour.
If you don't find description offered for a favorite theatre or for a
specific production that you would like described, call and
ask for it! The theatre will be dependent on finding
local audio describers -- not always an easy task -- but there is no
harm in asking. Advocate for your own needs!
The Law on Description
Under the ADA, offering an accommodation is
always on a case by case basis, and the decision is based on
what is "readily achievable." That will vary from one
venue to another, of course, according to administrative and
financial resources. A large theatre organization will be
a much more likely candidate for offering description than a
small one, for example; and you must also take into account
whether or not audio describers are available in the area.
Each venue should develop a policy in accordance to what is
readily achievable for them; then they should market their
policy so that the public knows what to expect and how to
request the service.
Here are some of the theatres around the country that offer
description. The amount of detail varies depending upon how much
information was provided to the webmaster. If
you know of more or have corrections, please advise the webmaster via the link
at the bottom of the page. UPDATED Sep 6, 2023 -- THANK YOU, CONTRIBUTORS!
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See also Museums/Tours
Disclaimer: Theatres listed here have been reported
as offering audio description at some performances. CALL the
theatre to request or verify availability of description!
District of Columbia
For additional information (including a schedule) about audio
described performances in the DC area, visit The Washington Ear and/or DC
Arts & Access Network Calendar.
Massachusetts(Boston and Vicinity plus Worcester)
the Schedule of Audio Described Performances in the Greater Boston Area from Perkins
- Abilities Dance Boston. This trailblazing company brings original musical scores, choreography, and audio description, ASL, and CART to make the work accessible in the spirit of universal design to be enjoyed by all. Abilities Dance Boston performs at various venues in the area. Their performances disrupt antiquated ableist beliefs and disseminates the value of inclusion through dance. Their performing company is comprised of adult dancers/choreographers, with and without disabilities, composers who create original music, and more! ADB includes open, recorded audio description, so that everyone in the audience hears it. AD is part of the soundscape of every piece they produce! To learn more visit: www.abilitiesdanceboston.org/events.
- American Repertory Theater. Loeb Drama Center,
64 Brattle Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. To purchase accessibility tickets for these performances or for access questions, contact [email protected] or 617-547-8300.
- Arts Emerson. Emerson Paramount Center,
559 Washington St.,
Boston, MA 02111. To order Audio Description tickets, contact the box office at [email protected] or call 617-824-8400.
- Citizens Bank Opera House. 539 Washington Street,
Boston, MA. For tickets contact 617-259-3448 or email [email protected].
Shakespeare Company. Shakespeare on the Common, Boston Common,
115 Boylston Street ,
Boston, MA. 617-426-0863
Theatre for the Performing Arts, Worcester, 877-571-7469
- Huntington Theatre Company. The Huntington's newly renovated theatre on Huntington Avenue is reopening this season. Some shows will run at the Huntington Theatre, and others will be at the Huntington's Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End. Please note the location of each production. For more information on The Huntington's access programs and to reserve tickets, please email [email protected] or call 617-266-2800. Tickets are $20 for each blind/low vision patron and their guests. Season Ticket Packages can be booked in advance. Keep the same seats for every performance, and renew into the same seats next season! Attend All Access Performances. Don't want to see all the shows? Pick and choose which ones you want for the same $20 price.
Productions. Moonbox Productions at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA). This year, all Moonbox Productions shows are Pay-What-You-Wish (as little, or as much as you choose). For access performance tickets, email Kara Crumrine, Director of Community & Accessibility at [email protected].
- Museum of Science
Mugar Omni Theatre, 617-723-2500
Door Theater. R.J. Grey Junior High School,
16 Charter Road, Acton, MA. Tickets are $15. Contact the ticket team at [email protected] or call 978-264-8150 for more information. www.opendoortheater.org.
- SpeakEasy Stage Company. All performances of SpeakEasy Stage Company productions will take place in the Roberts Theatre at the Calderwood Pavilion,
Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston MA . Tickets for patrons utilizing the Audio Description service (and their guests), are $25, with the code SPKAUDIO. Call the BCA box office at 617-933-8600, or email Alex Lonati at [email protected].
- Wang Theatre (800-877-7575) and Shubert Theatre (866-300-9761), call for "Accessible tickets."
- Wheelock Family Theatre (WFT) at Boston University, 180 The Riverway, Boston, MA. For tickets, call 617-353-3001 or visit WFT's website.
All performances will be Open Captioned. To learn more about accessibility at Wheelock Family Theatre, contact Audience Services Manager Jamie Aznive at (617) 353-1451 or at [email protected].
The following theatres and arts organizations in Minnesota (with a
couple across the border into North Dakota), offer audio
description either proactively or for certain productions or upon
request by patrons.
- Ames Center, Burnsville,
952-895-4680 (formerly Burnsville Performing Arts Center)
- Artistry, Bloomington,
952-563-8575 (formerly Bloomington Theatre & Art Center)
- Barebones Productions (Halloween show), Twin Cities
- BOLD-choice Theatre, Duluth, 218-725-5869 (part of Choice Unlimited)
- Chain Reaction Theatre Project,
Eden Prairie, 952-942-6686
- Chanhassen Dinner Theatres,
- Children’s Theatre Company,
- Circus Juventas, St. Paul,
- College of St. Benedict,
St. Joseph, 320-363-5777
- College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, 218-723-7000
- Commonweal Theatre,
- Cross Community Players, Osseo
& Maple Grove, 763-391-2787
- Duluth Playhouse, Duluth,
- Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre,
Fargo-Moorhead (Fargo, ND), 701-235-6778
- Frank Theatre, Minneapolis,
- Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera
- Girl Friday Productions Minneapolis
Theater, Minneapolis, 612-377-2224
Theatre Trust (New Century, Orpheum, Pantages, State Theatres),
- History Theatre, St. Paul,
- In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask
Theatre, Minneapolis, 612-721-2535
- Interact Center for the Visual
& Performing Arts, St. Paul, 651-209-3575
- Jungle Theater, Minneapolis,
- Mad Munchkin Productions,
- Minneapolis Musical Theatre,
Minneapolis (shows at New Century Theatre)
- Minnesota Association of Community
Theatres (biennial State Play Festival in March 2017 in Marshall, Region Festival in
April 2017 in Brainerd, National Festival June 2017 in Rochester)
- Minnesota Fringe Festival,
Minneapolis (selected performances each August), 612-872-1212
- Minnesota Opera Company, St. Paul,
- Mixed Blood Theatre,
- Mixed Precipitation,
Twin Cities, 612-619-2112
- Nimbus Theatre, Minneapolis,
612-548-1380 (on hiatus seeking new space)
- Northfield Arts Guild,
- Open Eye Figure Theatre,
- Ordway Center for the
Performing Arts, St. Paul, 651-224-4222
- Paradise Community
Theater, Faribault, 507-332-7372
- Park Square Theatre, St.
- Penumbra Theatre, St. Paul,
- Pillsbury House Theatre,
- Plymouth Playhouse,
- Red Eye Theatre, Minneapolis,
- Six Points Theater (formerly Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company),
St. Paul, 651-647-4315
- Southern Theater,
Minneapolis has a grant to offer AD, but you need to check with them
- St. John’s University,
- Stages Theatre Company,
- SteppingStone Theatre for
Youth, St. Paul, 651-225-9265
- Ten Thousand Things Theater,
- Theater Latté Da,
- Theatre in the Round Players,
- Theatre Mu, Twin
- Theatre Pro Rata, Twin
- Theatre Unbound, Twin
- Tin Roof Theatre,
Fargo-Moorhead (mainly Fargo, ND), 701-235-6778
- Trollwood Performing Arts School,
Fargo-Moorhead (mainly Moorhead), 218-477-6500
of Minnesota Duluth Theatre, Duluth, 218-726-8561
- University of Minnesota Theatre &
Dance, Minneapolis, 612-624-2345
- Walker Art Center,
- Walking Shadow Theatre
Company, Minneapolis, 612-375-0300
- Yellow Tree Theatre,
Osseo (just started, will include AD in new season)
- Youth Performance Company,
Nebraska (Omaha and Lincoln)
Audio Description in Omaha and Lincoln is provided by Outlook Nebraska (check for details) at the venues listed below.
New York (NYC, unless otherwise mentioned)
Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill (Triangle)
See Arts Access for the current schedule
(or call 919-833-9919). You can View a Public Service Announcement about audio description,
featuring Arts Access. Some of the following venues offer AD only
on request, so check early.
Arts Access has served the following Triangle-area theatre companies in the past. Please ask them about audio description!
... And they have served the following theatres outside the Triangle.
- Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, Dayton,
937-228-3630 or toll free 888-228-3630. Includes Dayton
Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Opera, Dayton Ballet, and Victoria
- Broadway in Cincinnati
- CAPA (the Ohio
Theatre, the Palace Theatre, the Southern Theatre, the Riffe Theatre
Complex, Lincoln Theatre, McCoy Theatre, Drexel Theatre).
Contact Elena Perantoni with requests for audio description by phone
(614) 719-6696 or email [email protected]. Three movies are live audio described
during the CAPA Summer Movie Series.
- Catco (Columbus)
- Cincinnati May
- Cincinnati Opera
Playhouse in the Park
- Covedale Center for the Performing Arts
- Dayton Opera
- Otterbein University Theatre (Westerville, Ohio): Contact
Elizabeth Saltzgiver by phone 614-823-1239 or email [email protected]
- The Ohio
State University Department of Theatre:
Audio equipment with oral description of the performance for the
visually impaired is available on the first Saturday matinee of each
Thurber Theatre and Bowen Theatre production. Seats and the
equipment must be reserved one month before the performance date.
Please contact the box office at 614-292-2295 for details.
- The Wexner
Center for the Arts: Contact Helyn Marshall by email [email protected].
- The Tennessee
Performing Art Center in Nashville has been supported
financially by the Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind to allow audio
description of various performances at discount prices for members.
Described performances include operas, ballets, musicals, and plays.
Houston Grand Opera was the Houston pioneer in audio description,
offering service on 48 hours' notice for all performances since 1987.
- The Rep provides audio description for each Quadracci Powerhouse
and Stiemke Theater production. For information, see the website or
call Erin Burgess at 414-290-5346.
- The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts provides audio description
for select performances, including the Marcus Center Broadway Series
2pm performances on Saturdays.
Wausau Community Theatre in Schofield provides audio description
and touch tours on stage before each show as part of their Sensory
Program. They also provide Sensory services to five other local
arts organizations. Email the Sensory program coordinator or call (715) 370-2694.