Today 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, actions, and key props 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 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, please advise the webmaster via
the link at the bottom of the page.
UPDATED DEC 2015 -- THANK YOU, CONTRIBUTORS! (Special thanks to
Mary Hanks, Jo Lynn Bailey, and Margie Donovan.)
Jump to State: AZ CA CO
HI IL IA IN
KY MA MD
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PA TN TX
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!
Audio Description Colorado for the complete listing of theatres
currently using audio description.
District of Columbia
For additional information (including a schedule) about audio
described performances in the DC area, visit
The Washington Ear.
See also Robert Kingett's
reviews of audio described live theatre in the Chicago area or
subscribe to the
Repertory Theater (IRT) offers regularly scheduled AD on the
same weekend as ESL (sign language).
- Clowes Hall,
located on the campus of Butler University, offers a variety of
performances, including ballet from the university and a Broadway
Children's Museum occasionally offers AD.
Massachusetts (Boston and Vicinity plus Worcester)
Schedule of Audio Described Performances in the Greater Boston Area
American Repertory Theater Harvard University, Cambridge,
Broadway Across America at
Opera House, 617-259-3448
Performing Arts Center Wang and Shubert Theatres
Theatre for the Performing Arts, Worcester, 877-571-7469
Huntington Theatre Company, 617-273-1558
Museum of Science
Mugar Omni Theatre, 617-723-2500
Repertory Theatre, Watertown, 617-923-7060
Oberon, Cambridge, 617-547-8300
Door Theater, Acton, 978-264-8150
Wheelock Family Theatre,
See VSA Minnesota's
Accessible Arts Calendar for updated information. Join the
mailing list by writing
email@example.com. You can also search the
Minnesota Playlist.com. Thanks to Jon Skaalen for all this
Entries below followed by an asterisk (*) have proven to be active in
2015 based on info from the above Calendar (which we check periodically,
but miss some!).
- Ames Center
(formerly Burnesville Performing Arts Center), Burnesville,
Artistry (formerly Bloomington Theatre and Art Center),
Bloomington, 952-563-8575 *
- BareBones Productions,
Halloween Show, Twin Cities
BOLD-Choice Theatre (part of Choice Unlimited), Duluth,
Chain Reaction Theatre Project, Eden Prairie, 952-942-6686
Chameleon Theatre Circle, Burnsville, 952-895-4680
Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, Chanhassen, 952-934-1525 *
Children's Theatre Company, Minneapolis, 612-874-0400 *
Circus Juventas, St Paul, 651-699-8229
College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, 320-363-5777
College of Saint Scholastica, Deluth, 218-723-7000
Commonweal Theatre, Lanesboro, 507-467-2525 *
- Cross Community Players,
Osseo & Maple Grove, 763-391-2787
Deluth Playhouse, Deluth, 218-733-7555
Theatre, Minneapolis, 612-724-3760
& Sullivan Very Light Opera Company, Minneapolis
Girl Friday Productions, Minneapolis
GREAT Theatre Company
The Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, 612-377-2224 *
Hennepin Theatre Trust (New Century, Orpheum, Pantages,
State Theatres), Minneapolis, 612-339-7007
History Theatre, St Paul, 651-292-4323 *
Illusion Theatre, Minneapolis, 612-339-4944 *
- In the Heart
of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre, Minneapolis,
Interact Center for the Performing Arts, Minneapolis,
Jungle Theater, Minneapolis, 612-822-7063
- Mad Munchkin Productions, Minneapolis
Association of Community Theatres (biennial Festival in
Minneapolis Musical Theatre, Minneapolis
Minnesota Centennial Showboat, St. Paul
Minnesota Fringe Festival, Minneapolis (selected
performances each August), 612-872-1212
Minnesota History Theatre
- Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, St. Paul,
Minnesota Opera, Minneapolis, 612-333-6669 *
The Mixed Blood Theater, Minneapolis, 612-338-6131 *
Mixed Precipitation, Twin Cities, 612-619-2112
Mu Performing Arts, Minneapolis, 651-789-1012 *
Nautilus Theatre, Minneapolis
New Century Theatre, Minneapolis *
Nimbus Theater, Minneapolis, 612-548-1380 *
Northfield Arts Guild, Northfield, 507-645-8877
Off-Leash Area, Twin Cities, 612- 724-7372
- Open Eye Figure Theatre, Minneapolis, 612-874-6338
Old Log Dinner Theatre, Minnetonka
The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St Paul,
Flint Hills International Children's Festival, St. Paul
(each May), 651-224-4222
Paradise Community Theater, Faribault, 507-332-7372 *
The Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis *
Park Square Theatre, St. Paul, 651-291-7005 *
The Pantages Theatre, Minneapolis *
Patrick's Cabaret, Minneapolis, 612-724-6273
Penumbra Theatre, St. Paul, 651-224-3180
Pillsbury House Theatre, Minneapolis, 612-825-0459 *
Plymouth Playhouse, Plymouth, 763-553-1600
Eye Theatre, Minneapolis, 612-870-0309
Theater Proscenium, Minneapolis *
John's University, Collegeville, 320-363-5777
Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins, 952-979-1111 *
- Southern Theatre, Minneapolis
The State Theatre, Minneapolis *
SteppingStone Theatre For Youth, St. Paul, 651-225-9265 *
- The Strange Capers, Minneapolis
Target Center, Minneapolis
- Ten Thousand Things, Minneapolis,
Theatre in the Round, Minneapolis, 612-333-3010 *
- Theater Latté Da, Minneapolis,
Theatre Pro Rata, Twin Cities, 612-874-9321
- Theatre Unbound, Minneapolis,
Roof Theatre, Fargo-Moorhead (mainly Fargo, ND),
Torch Theatre, Minneapolis
Trollwood Performing Arts School, Fargo-Moorhead (mainly
University of Minnesota Duluth Theatre, Duluth, 218-726-8561
University of Minnesota Theater, Minneapolis, 612-624-2345 *
Urban Samurai Productions, Minneapolis
VSA Minnesota Accessible Arts Calendar, statewide Minnesota,
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 612-375-7600 *
Walking Shadow Theatre Company, Minneapolis *
Workhaus Collective, Minneapolis
Youth Performance Company, Minneapolis, 612-623-9080 *
The Fox, St Louis; discount tickets available through Lighthouse
for the Blind, 314-423-4333
- The Muny, St
New York (NYC, unless otherwise mentioned)
Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill (Triangle)
Arts Access for
the current schedule and links to the following theatres. You can
video story on Arts Access or
View a Public Service Announcementabout audio description, featuring Arts Access. Some of
the following venues offer AD only on request, so check early.
- Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre (218-235-6778,
www.fmct.org, 333 Fourth St. S.,
- The Tin Roof Theatre Company (701.205-5788,
firstname.lastname@example.org, 3120 44th Street South, #302, Fargo).
- Trollwood Performing Arts (218-477-6502,
email@example.com). Large Print programs available by
calling ahead. One performance of the summer musical is audio
described, as are occasional theatrical performances at local
universities when requested.
- 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.
NOTE: Audio description in the Austin area is
generally provided by VSA Texas. View their
of Austin events.
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.
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.