In March this year, SRT and Access Arts Hub teamed up with Nathan Geering of Rationale Theatre, and Republic Polytechnic (RP), present an exciting event that includes a laboratory project. The workshop aimed to find out how technologies can be used within a theatrical context to not only enhance accessibility, but to enrich theatrical experience. Paul Adams, SRT’s Learning and Engagement Manager shares with us his experience.
“A place for everyone.” This statement has been SRT Learning & Engagement’s mantra that directs our efforts in the space of Access and Inclusion. When planning programmes, it ensures our focus is on everyone having a choice to attend and create with us. We know barriers exist for many reasons, but many can be removed with the right resources, tools, and mindset.
Demystifying Technology is conceptualised and executed by Nathan Geering of Rationale Method in the UK. Nathan specialises in accessibility innovation and strives to make work that heightens accessibility for both disabled and non-disabled artists and audiences. SRT engaged Nathan and the projects ‘Technology Partner’ Republic Polytechnic (RP) to create a ‘place for everyone’ to come and sow the seeds for new ideas about theatre-making. Nathan guided the whole process from the UK, preparing pre-workshop videos online to allow participants to build some context. During the event, RP faculty members demonstrated how to use VR devices, 360 cameras, lighting fixtures and sound sampling as an entry point to how low and hi-tech can be utilised. Then faced with a series of questions from Nathan, participants began to ‘play’.
People asked, what was my expectation of this programme? It was this, we ‘spark’ ideas. We introduce people to the possibilities of theatre-making through the lens of Access and technology. Why? Because as we grow the Access and Inclusion agenda in Singapore, we need to move towards a place of ‘aesthetic access’. This form of Access is about building an inclusive format from the ground up. It is about finding innovative solutions for storytelling with a diverse representation from the community, artists and audiences. This is an exciting place to be. It is collaborative; it is forward-thinking and puts Access firmly in the artistic seat.
We don’t always get it right, and that is ok, as long as we are willing to listen and learn. Every programme we conduct, we step closer to building a more holistic understanding of this rich area of work, and we strive to share our successes and challenges with the network. Here’s what some of the participants had to say about the programme.
“It was a fun, collaborative environment. I enjoyed the practice aspect of the show. Getting to play with both high tech and Low tech, so we get to see the spectrum of opportunity.” – Participant
“The workshop was very engaging, and we learned how to use simple technologies to create an exciting performance that is available to everyone” – Participant
“[I learnt to] translate and create experiences across multiple modalities so that the experiences are rich and multi-sensory for all.” – Participant
“[I learnt that] The need to foster more of a community to better understand how to create/focus the usage of technology for disabled artists/audiences.” – Participant
“Thank you to our project partners and our funders, Temasek Foundation, who continue to champion the Access Development programme at SRT. But the conversations continue. Please check out Access Arts Hub here. It’s a voluntary consortium filled with like-minded people interested and passionate about moving the arts industry towards better Accessibility and Inclusion.” – Paul Adams – Learning & Engagement Manager – SRT