Lianne Herbert: The frustration of attending a play without any access

Posted on October 24, 2012

Last week, my drama teacher organised a theatre trip for my drama group – who are all hearing – to attend.

We went to see the last performance of a London-based production, because we were going to meet the cast the following day in our drama class to discuss the play.

At first, when the play began, I was really attentive and tried to follow the dialogue.

The beginning was the best part, as there were more visual elements and less dialogue. But as the play went on, for a further one hour and forty-five minutes, I lost interest, as the play became extremely dialogue based.

I was feeling restless and bored out of my mind. I drifted in and out of the play and I felt more deflated by the second.  The rest of the hearing audience were thoroughly engaged, of course, so they laughed when they laughed, squirmed when something awkward was said etc etc.

Why? Because they could hear.

At one stage I felt like leaving the performance, not because the play was rubbish but because I didn’t have full access to the wordy dialogue. I only went to the trip to be ‘sociable’.

When the play finished the audience were beaming, saying the play was well written etc etc. I walked out with a sullen face. It felt even more awkward when some of my fellow companions were asking me what I thought of the play. How an earth could I give them an honest response? I’d missed more than half of the dialogue!

I’ve bought the play text for me to read. But right now I’m not interested in reading it as I feel deflated and wish I knew about the captioned performance of the play, which happened at the beginning of the month.

I just wonder how far do some deaf people go to appear ‘sociable’ to their hearing peers?

It will be even more awkward when the cast come to visit my drama group session today to talk about the play. What should I do?

Remain silent?

For more information about captioned theatre performances, go to

Lianne Herbert is an aspiring musician, actress, model and writer who happens to be deaf! She is currently writing two new plays for Deafinitely Theatre. Follow her on Twitter as @LianneHerbert13
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