Thursday, 23 September 2010

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's not Wotan...

Torso inspired by frozen chicken

True story time. Really.

Back when newspapers were in black and white, The Red Hand Gang flared on my family's mercurial Grundig during summer holiday mornings and a packet of crisps cost 7p I became bewitched by something that has drifted in and out of my life ever since. Comics. Batman and Green Lantern to be more specific – quit the sniggering, Wotan and co aren't exactly of this realm.

...In case you're wondering this does lead to an opera related post, but you'll have to buy a ticket to my train of thought to reach journey's end...

I became gripped by the stories on the soft, colourful pages and spent my pocket money trying to keep up with storylines that I usually followed out of synch because my local newsagent wasn't a firm believer in customer service. Despite finding out the end of a story before I reached the middle I kept on buying the comics because I loved the enjoyment they gave me but, as in most comic stories, things hit the skids when my local newsagent went from not believing in customer service to giving no customer service when he stopped ordering my Batman and Green Lantern comics. Holy cow poo! To say I had a pwdi lip the size of a saucer for several weeks would not be an overstatement. My world had come to a shuddering halt.

Then, as I was at my lowest superheroless ebb, salvation came from the most unexpected source. A neighbour, a man I thought of as being a mean old so and so, who worked in the far off metropolis of Cardiff heard about my plight (okay, he saw me having a right old strop that involved kicking and screaming) and took it upon himself to buy me my Batman and Green Lantern comics from a newsagent close to where he worked. I never knew why he did this, perhaps because he was afraid my next strop session could see me hacking his shin, but whatever his reason it allowed me to get back to enjoying my comics and the worlds in the stories I had come to love.

Fast-forward a few decades and to the point of this post. Preferring to walk the walk, rather than talking the talk, WNO actively go out into communities and try to make opera as accessible to as many people as possible, this includes providing performances that are geared towards operagoers who are blind or have a visual impairment. But isn't opera an aural entertainment? Not really, otherwise companies would only put on concert performances. Opera is theatre, it's stories told by singers wearing costumes and acting roles on stages full of sets. WNO provides the opportunity for blind or visually impaired audience members to have the physical drama on the stage described to them through their free Audio Description service. In addition to this they also run a free Touch Tour prior to performances allowing blind or visually impaired operagoers to get their hands on the set and costumes before a performance.

And now this is really the journey's end of this post – although the Audio Description / Touch Tours are quite rightly provided free of charge WNO does need a little bit of help towards the running costs of this fabulous service. Although most of us (okay me) would like to think that we (me) are a Batman-in-waiting, we (I) know deep down that we're (I'm) more of a Kick Ass, which is quite alright by me because he got things done by hook or by crook. So if you're feeling like being a superhero today (minus Kick Ass' corpse riddled storyline of course), or an enigmatic neighbour, you can do so from the comfort of your computer room chair / sofa / train seat by following this link where you can help towards WNO's £5, 000 target. Whether the amount you can afford is £3.50 or £350 both will come with cape attached.

Fidelio and, if my research is correct, Die Fledermaus and Turandot are the Audio Description / Touch Tour operas in the 2010 / 2011 season.

The Fidelio Audio Description / Touch Tour performance venues and dates are as follows (but check with theatres to be on the safe side):

8th October WMC
22nd October Bristol Hippodrome
5th November Liverpool Empire Theatre
12th November Birmingham Hippodrome
19th November Venue Cymru Llandudno
3rd December New Theatre Oxford

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