London’s Donmar Warehouse will temporarily re-open this August with a new, socially distanced sound installation starring Juliet Stevenson.
Directed by Walter Meierjohann, the piece is adapted from José Saramago’s novel by Simon Stephens and is entitled Blindness.
Acclaimed actress Juliet Stevenson (The Doctor, Mary Stuart) will speak the text of the hour-long event, with attendees listening via headphones. The show will feature binaural sound design by Ben and Max Ringham, design by Lizzie Clachan, lighting by Jessica Hung Han Yun and production consultancy by Hannah Thompson.
To comply with government approved social distancing measures ticketing for the event is strictly limited with audience members, who do not live together or who are not part of a bubble, sat two metres apart.
All visitors will be required to wear a face covering throughout their visit (medical exemptions permitted) as will all Donmar staff.
Artistic director Michael Longhurst said: “Reading Simon’s version of Saramago’s extraordinary allegory about a government’s and society’s response to a pandemic, I knew this was a story we had to tell immediately. With indoor live performance not yet permitted, and social distancing measures reducing capacity, I am proud that the Donmar has risen to the challenge of producing work at this time.
“This immersive sound installation makes a virtue of these restrictions inspiring our artists to find the apposite form for this story. Utilising Juliet Stevenson’s astonishing talent as a recording artist, and the binaural wizardry of the Ringham Brothers, it re-centres and celebrates this event as a non-visual experience. Our theatre has lain empty for so long, so I am delighted we can gather there for a unique and accessible experience after the isolation of Covid-19.
Production consultant Professor Hannah Thompson said: “The Donmar Warehouse has a strong track record in supporting visually impaired audiences to enjoy their productions. I am pleased that I have been invited to support the creative team to ensure the Blindness sound installation has accessibility built into the experience for all visitors.
“José Saramago’s novel is a complex portrayal of blindness, and the Donmar is exploring how blindness can lead to different ways of being in the world and an appreciation that sight isn’t as necessary for understanding as we may think. In fact this installation will show that blindness can lead to rich and immersive aesthetic experiences.”
Tickets go on sale from 12pm Friday 17 July 2020 for public booking.
Blindness will run from 3 August 2020 until 22 August 2020 (there will be four performances per day) at Donmar Warehouse.