“That’s the magic of art and the magic of theatre: it has the power to transform an audience, an individual, or en masse, and give them an epiphanic experience that changes their life, opens their hearts and their minds and the way they think.” — Brian Stokes Mitchell, Actor
For ages, theatre has been a powerful medium to sensitise communities, elevate people’s thought processes and stimulate their creative urge. The passion for the platform engulfs you in the aura of raw emotions, where everything rest in your life becomes sophomore in the series and you are captivated by a plethora of words arranged to narrate the best tale of times. You slowly dive in, and feel the vibes of the villain, love like the protagonist and feel the presence of every character like an observer standing on the stage.
Outstanding theatre performances becomes an immortal fragment in your mortal journey. And when such performances are integrated with the idea of inclusiveness, theatre takes an exceptional dimension. Artspositive is excited to introduce you to one such exceptional initiative, the Singapore Repertory Theatre Ltd (SRT), which takes the idea of “Theatre for all” a step forward with their outreach and community program “Access”.
SRT being one of the leading theatres in Singapore was founded 25 years ago. They serve up to 125,000 people a year on and off stage with exciting seasons of productions such as Shakespeare in the Park, Disgraced and Forbidden City : Portrait of an Empress. SRT’s Learning & Engagement branch has become a chosen partner for many schools and corporates, which are looking for strong programs using theatre as a tool to teach.
SRT’s Stage Camp conducted by the Learning & Engagement team
Exclusively signed performances are prepared for the hearing impaired where trained professionals stand beside the stage to interpret the act simultaneously as the play is being performed. From staging their first Signed performances in 2005 to the recent staged performances, SRT has collaborated with many partners. They partnered with Esplanade to present National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and have entered a collaboration with Temasek Foundation as their Access Enabling Partner going forward. With these partnerships, they have facilitated two access training platforms for the industry by international practitioners and also been able to install Audio Description equipment at KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT.
SRT is not only planning to expand its signed performances but are also committed for relaxed performances and making the venue accessible, the actors are briefed about the different access programs, so they know what kind of audience reaction to expect.
Working with different associations in Singapore SRT ensures that the hearing-impaired community knows of the performances and they plan to start audio describe their performances next year after which they will reach out to the organizations and schools working with the visually impaired.
Charlotte Nors, the Managing Director of SRT connects to the program to an emotional point where she feels that a greater number of people should enjoy theatre irrespective of their financial background or any additional need.
“At SRT we believe theatre and the arts is a key value of life-long learning. The stories we tell, the dialog ue we create makes us who we are. We try to the best of our ability to make theatre accessible also financially. In fact, we sponsor up to 3,000 tickets a year for young people from less privileged backgrounds,” – Charlotte Nors
As the center of the ripple is just a point but the effect travels a distance, analogously the art of theatre is crossing all barriers and reaching to the far ends of every corner and every section of the society. And institutions such as SRT has initiated that journey. Albeit a long road down is to be travelled but we should not forget hope was the important of all things in the pandora’s box.
This article is written by Neha Yeshvi, and was first published on ArtsPositive on 10 Jan 2019.