Review: STAGETEXT’s global theatre watch-along – with captions!

Posted on October 1, 2014

The date was 25th September 2014. The time was 7.30pm. The popcorn was salted. The cushions were plumped.

Everything was primed ready for the ground-breaking event that was Stagetext’s global watch-along of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’

ByZ9gGNCcAAiiPtStarring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, the production was filmed live during performances at the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre, London in September 2011.

The initiative hoped to give the deaf community an opportunity to be part of a social, group event, much the same as going to the theatre itself to watch the play, but with the added bonus of fully accessible captioning.

For myself, I really enjoyed the community aspect of live Tweets and comments during the watch-a-long; it felt like everyone watching could actually be sitting in the same room, sharing my popcorn and discussing what we were watching.

Except I’d never really share the popcorn, of course.

I don’t mean there was constant jabbering; just the odd comment or shared view, just like being at the theatre with your friends.

The fact that the captions were perfectly timed with the speech, like television subtitles (there is often a delay with the live captioning at theatres), along with their placement in the centre of the screen (rather than off in the wings, away from the action) really helped viewers access the full impact of the play.

The production itself was of such a high quality that it really didn’t seem to matter whether you ‘like Shakespeare’ or not; it was a great piece of theatre, with some beautiful visuals, and some terrible costume choices.

Personally, I will be downloading and watching pretty much all of the productions.

I enjoy theatre hugely, but I also tend to come away from a performance thinking, “I need to see that again so I can catch all the bits I missed while I was looking at the captioning box.”

Of course, watching on my laptop (there are plans to roll out to iPhone and iPad/tablets soon) is never going to have the atmosphere of being in a packed theatre, but it’s not such a terrible hardship to be able to watch highly acclaimed productions in my pyjamas.

As regards the watch-along itself, I have nothing but praise for the smoothness of organisation and the use of social media for promotion and sharing.

It really did develop a sense of community, which I think should be encouraged and expanded. It would be such a shame if this were a one-off occurrence. So, thanks must go to the teams at Stagetext and Digital Theatre for devising and implementing such a great occasion.

Alongside Much Ado About Nothing, you can find Ghosts, Long Day’s Journey into Night, A Doll’s House, Far from the Madding Crowd and Into the Woods available to rent or buy and watch online in browser, or to buy and download to your desktop with the option of captioning.

You can find also more generalised information, or buy/rent the productions by following this link –

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Posted in: emily howlett