Here at the Young Vic this week, we’re celebrating Captioning Awareness Week, spreading the word about captioned performances to the 1 in 6 people in the UK who are currently deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.
Enter, Miranda Yates, who has long been captioning the Young Vic’s productions and also happens to be our Caption Hero (I mean, how could she not be?!). Whether you’re a captioning regular or you didn’t know the word existed, we hope Miranda’s 11 questions will give you a little insight into accessible theatre…
1. Can you describe your job in three words?
Self-contained, persnickety, silent
2. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?
Trying to be calm – finishing off a takeaway coffee!
3. What was it that first got you interested in captioning and access?
A long time back now whilst working at the Almeida Theatre (I still am!) I was inspired by the work of Graeae Theatre Company to look at ways of extending access for Deaf and disabled audiences. This led to setting up a regular programme which included captioned and audio described performances. Later following a successful funding application we trained with Stagetext to caption in house and I became a captioner.
4. What’s the funniest thing that’s happened at captioned performance?
I did a show recently in the West End where the lead character because of illness swapped to their understudy half way through the show – that was a surprise!
5. Have the actors ever gone off script or tried to test you?
At this very venue not so long ago in the Life of Galileo – not naming names – but they’re definitely regretting not being on my Christmas card list this year – ha ha!
6. What is your favourite play you’ve seen, read or worked on?
Passion at the Donmar Warehouse – I didn’t caption it but worked on the audio description for it. Sondheim all the way – genius!
7. What’s your favourite thing about being part of the wonderful world of theatre captioning?
It’s great to do a job that reduces the barriers that D/deaf and disabled people face and promotes access to the magical world that theatre is.
8. Who is your ultimate hero, and what would you say to them if you could meet them?
Joni Mitchell – unlike the Caption Hero I’d be a bit lost for words if I ever go that opportunity!
9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Think less – do more! (I don’t always manage it!)
10. What would you say to someone who had never been to a captioned performance but secretly wanted to?
Just go – what’s to lose?!
11. Confession time. This is a safe space: tell us something you’ve never told anyone before.
I think I accidentally cooked a hamster once – the cage was outside and it was a hot day! When I went to check the hamster had gone quite stiff – we buried it in our back garden … #BadPetOwner