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Theater Provides 'Touching' Show for Blind

  • Susan Logue

BALTIMORE, Maryland — The men and women who settle into their seats at Everyman Theatre aren’t here for a traditional performance.

“We are here to take you on an experience through 'You Can’t Take It With You,'” says Marcus Kidd, the company’s education director.

Today's visitors are all visually impaired.

These days, many theater companies reach out to the blind with special performances that provide description of the action with a radio earpiece only they can hear.

Everyman Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland, goes one step further, allowing its guests to experience theater in a different way.
Visually-impaired theatergoers touch the skull, a prop in Everyman Theatre's production of "You Can’t Take It With You."

Visually-impaired theatergoers touch the skull, a prop in Everyman Theatre's production of "You Can’t Take It With You."

“We don’t believe that just because they can’t see a play they can’t enjoy a play,” Kidd says.

Those who can't see go on the stage and become familiar with the set and props.

Not every play gets a touch tour, but "You Can’t Take It With You," a 1930s comedy with a cast of eccentric characters, was a natural.

“The great thing about the play is almost everything in the play that has to be on stage ends up affecting the story," says Kidd. "From the minute you open the script you get the description of the typewriter, the skull that is holding jellybeans.”

Everyman Theatre has been doing touch tours for several years, usually for one play each season.

“Because we don’t see, we only get to form images of what we think is going on," says Roger Williamson, a regular of the theater's touch tours. "This will enhance the performance greatly to know what things they are using as props.”

Maurice Peret attended the play before taking the touch tour. “It brought the play that much more alive knowing what the set looked like. I can recall seeing the play and seeing where some of the performers were sitting. We see more with our brains than with our eyes. It’s not a question of seeing things, but assimilating visual information.”

These tours may not generate ticket sales, but Marcus Kidd is pleased to share the theater with people who otherwise might not consider attending a performance.
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