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Making Theatre Accessible to All

TR Warszawa  has been recognized for several years for its involvement in accessibility issues. It won the Leader of Accessibility award from the Culture Without Barriers Foundation for its implementation of innovative accessibility practices in its educational activities. During the confinement period, it expanded our accessibility practices with an ambitious streaming programme. Therefore, TR Warszawa has chosen to approach this notion of radicalism through the prism of our accessibility policy.

So, what does it mean to be radical when developing access strategies within an arts institution?

In 2023, major private funding enabled TR Warszawa to present two or three shows every fortnight, with a sign language interpreter and a screen for subtitles.

Due to the reluctance of some artists to incorporate accessibility tools into their production for aesthetic, conceptual, or technical reasons, an internal think-tank has been set up, bringing together the executive producers, assistant directors, stage managers, the video department, and the technical director. The reflexion led to the introduction of an accessibility clause in the production contract. The artistic team must now take into account the presence of accessibility tools/supports in the creative process — a screen for surtitles, the presence on stage of a sign language interpreter. Taking this into account upstream in the creative process means that potential conflicts on aesthetic level can be anticipated. Throughout the process, the TR Warszawa technical teams propose scenographic solutions to the artist, enabling the work to develop organically around these elements.

What’s next?

Pursuing its efforts to make theatre more accessible to people with special needs, TR Warszawa is developing its first project with a deaf artist, Adam Stoyanov. Rehearsals of his show EP will begin in June 2024, with a premiere scheduled for September. This process will enable the whole team to continue training and thinking together to propose new tools or protocols to make our theatre more accessible.

It will also promote a “barrier-free” brand image and marketing. An initial series of invitations to performances in sign language have already been produced.

To watch

Watch the full interview of Adama Stoyanov in Polish Signed language.