11 Jul 2022

Susan Williams talks Illegally Blind

Tell us about the concept for Illegally Blind - it's such a unique and funny premise!

The original idea for Illegally Blind grew out of my comedy, my love for theatre, and a burning hatred of doing laundry. In my opinion, a mixture of standup and theatre, featuring sock puppets crawling out of piles of clothes, was a completely natural response to these three things.

I pitched the original concept for Illegally Blind to Touch Compass’s Lumana’i season, and it grew from there.

What did you find most exciting about the premier season of Illegally Blind?

The most exciting thing about the original season of Illegally Blind was how happy audience members were to have their needs met, in some cases for the first time in a theatre space.

How does accessibility - more than for only blind/low vision people - work with the show?

Accessibility is built into the show from the start - it IS the start in a lot of ways. The show has audio description at its heart, and would not be the same without it, while the audio description is available to everyone, (and translated into NZSL) the whole concept is a show that is most accessible to blind people, and very accessible for disabled and d/Deaf folks.

Every show has inbuilt audio description of the visual aspects of the show, it adds to the experience for everyone, including being translated into NZSL. Every show encourages audience members to sit in a way that is comfortable for them, be that on the backed benches, a standalone chair with arms, their own wheelchair, or on the floor. NZSL is provided at all shows with the exception of one relaxed show. There are two relaxed shows with lowered sound volume, clicking instead of clapping, and house lights partially up the whole time. Braille programmes are standard, with large print available, and we even printed out some sighted access programmes in a token effort to accommodate sighted people. Cheaper tickets are available if needed. Guide dogs and assistance dogs are welcome. And if anyone has access questions, or a request for an accommodation we haven’t covered, we’d love to hear from them.

And Illegally Blind will be coming up to Tāmaki Makaurau in July!

I am so excited to be performing at the Basement, and working with awesome people to make it happen! I’ve never been to the Basement, but have heard many cool things about it and definitely went ’squee’ and flapped my hands excitedly when I heard. It’s an amazing opportunity to bring the show to new audiences, and I can’t wait!

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