Colchester’s Mercury Theatre improves shows for deaf or hard of hearing audience members

The Mercury Theatre are thrilled to have their own captioning unit. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The Mercury Theatre are thrilled to have their own captioning unit. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

An Essex theatre has been given a cash grant to buy a captioning unit.

The Mercury Theatre in Colchester has bought the captioning unit, which enables those who are deaf or hard of hearing, to be able to enjoy live theatre by providing a written description of what is happening on stage.

This is the first captioning unit which is based solely in Essex.

Previously, the theatre relied on sharing equipment with Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre, and the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.

Executive director Steve Mannix said: “Thanks to Essex County Council, we are now in the fantastic position of being more flexible with our access provision – we can bring the unit into action at short notice, for visiting companies or community use, for our creative learning and talent projects, and more.

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“The Mercury is committed to ensuring that audiences from Essex and beyond can access great theatre, and this is just one step in our plans to improve our facilities to guarantee access for all.”

Simon Walsh, Essex County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for the community initiatives fund, added:

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“I am pleased that once again the Community Initiatives Fund is being used to fund a project that will make a real difference to people in Essex.

“The installation of the new captioning unit at the Mercury Theatre will ensure that everyone can enjoy and access local theatre productions helping to bring our communities together.

“The latest bidding round for the Community Initiatives Fund is now open and I encourage local community groups across Essex to apply and I look forward to seeing the announcement of similar success stories in 2018.”

Throughout 2016/17 the Mercury has staged 18 accessible performances and this year they will introduce dementia-friendly performances for the first time.

The venue has also expanded its youth theatre offer to include Aspire Share Create, a youth theatre for young people with Autism Spectrum Conditions, and Take Flight, a summer school for those with disabilities and additional needs.

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