It's a bold statement but I'm going to go ahead and make it:
Captioning saves lives
And let me tell you how...
For me, saving someone's life isn't just about restarting their heart, curing them of some hideous disease or pushing them out of the way of an out of control bus. Saving someone's life is about giving them back the quality of life they deserve, that they maybe don't have through no fault of their own.
In my case, with my deafness, I spent much of my younger years - before I found out I was deaf - falling asleep at the theatre. Feeling stupid because I couldn't follow Shakespeare, wondering why people went to see musicals as there were no intelligable words being said.
After I discovered I was deaf, I continued to do all of the above. I went to see Richard III with Kenneth Branagh in it, and followed precisely not one word of it. I went to see The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and to this day could not tell you what it was about. I went to see Les Miserables and honestly made up my own lyrics while sat there watching Eponine die.
And then along came captions. And they saved my life. My quality of life. My belief in my own intelligence. And they gave me back the chance to have an amazing time at the theatre and leave feeling elated, educated and included.
I went to see King Lear at Donmar Warehouse with Derek Jacobi, with Stagetext captions, and I sobbed, held my breath and came out completely exhuasted by the amazing work I had just witnessed. Without captions, it would have been a confusing, somewhat disturbing event with an old man with a beard on stage. I would have died of boredom.
Stagetext saved my life.
I went to see Les Miserables with captions. I realised the beauty of the lyrics, the rawness of the story and wow... how I missed out on that the first time around. Cats - 30-odd years after I had first seen it... I had no idea there was a storyline.
Stagetext brought them all to life.
In fact, I've lost count of the number of things that Stagetext has made accessible for me.
Tennessee Williams - my favourite playwright, the subject of my university disertation, my dream dinner party guest - I've seen three of his plays now because of captions. And all of them were so much more amazing because I wasn't having to read along with the script. Although to be fair, I could probably recite A Streetcar named Desire off by heart anyway.
Captioning live theatre is not as simple as pressing text 888 and I am constantly in awe of the preparation, people and cost that goes into making these performances happen. And when I get cross that there aren't more, I remember that it's partly our job to shout about it, raise awareness about it and help make it become even easier, affordable and commonplace for captions to be a part of live talks and theatre.
Captioning saves lives people. It saved mine.
Happy Captioning Awareness Week.