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Open Caption

Open Captioning Comes to PlayMakers

Introducing another way to enhance your play-going enjoyment.  

Read along with the play at our Open Captioning performances:

Disgraced Oct 3
Seminar Oct 31
Peter and the Starcatcher Nov 28
Three Sisters Jan 30
We Are Proud... Mar 5
Sweeney Todd Apr 9

Open Captioning is like closed captioning on your TV – in the theatre. Many people with hearing loss or who just want to make sure they don’t miss a word find Open Captioning helpful. Audiences on Broadway and at other performing arts organizations such as The Kennedy Center and Blumenthal Center in Charlotte have enjoyed the benefits of this service. We’re trying it out here at no additional cost to you.

(An example of Open Captioning during our recent production of Red)

For information and to place your order, come by our box office or call 919.962.PLAY (7529).

Partial support for this service is provided by the Theatre Development Fund.


What is Open Captioning?
Open Captioning converts the spoken word into text, which is displayed on a caption unit that is viewed by the audience. As the captions roll (delivered live, from a laptop computer, by an experienced captioner), audience members can follow what is said, when it is said, and by whom. Sound effects and off-stage noises are also included. The caption unit is in position before the performance and removed immediately afterwards.

The text is displayed on a screen, on, above, below, or beside the stage. Open Captioning provides what is called “universal access” because everyone can see it, whether they have hearing loss or not. Audiences without a recognized hearing loss can find Open Captioning helpful, especially when the acoustics are poor, or where English is not their first language, when students are wishing to access the text during a performance, when the performance involves dialect or strong accents, when words are being sung or when actors are speaking or singing off stage.

Open Captioning raises people’s awareness of hearing loss, makes the production more accessible to everyone and fosters inclusiveness. It is a relatively simple and cost-effective way to provide access to live performance for the maximum number of people. With Open Captioning, audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing are not “labeled” as such by being obliged to collect special equipment or sit in specially equipped seats. Hearing and non-hearing people can sit together and enjoy the performance together. The position of the caption unit on stage or in the auditorium is decided between the venue and the Open Captioning provider, taking into account the design of the stage, set and auditorium.

Open Captioning is about developing new audiences, bringing former audiences back to the theater, and providing the most enjoyable experience for current audience members, whether they have a hearing loss or not.

(The above text is excerpted from “A Good Practice Guide to Open Captioning” by Stagetext. www.stagetext.co.uk)

How does Open Captioning work and what does it look like?
In the Paul Green Theater, a 1 foot high and 4 foot wide screen that displays the text of the play will be mounted so that best viewing will be in the center section.  A trained operator sitting in the audience with a laptop will control the screen, displaying the script as it is said by the actors, with the characters names. Sound effects and off-stage noises will also be described. The location of the screen may change with each production depending upon set size, blocking and other artistic considerations. Here are some photos of what Open Captioning looks like at other theaters: http://c2net.org/?page_id=2

Who can use Open Captioning?
Everyone! People with partial or complete hearing loss find Open Captioning most useful to help follow the play. Other patrons use Open Captioning to help follow the play when the actors are playing characters with accents or the language of the play is more difficult to follow.

Will other patrons be disturbed by the screen?
The screen is not in the sightline for most of the theater; it is aimed at the section of the theater that is reserved for patrons wishing to see and use the screen. Other theaters have found that patrons who can see the screen but did not plan to use the Open Captioning screen found it useful, or were easily able to disregard it and watch only the performance. If you can’t see the displayed text on the screen, it looks like a black box and blends into the background.

How can I buy a ticket for Open Captioning?
To purchase, click on any show title above, or you can contact our Box Office at 919.962.7529. Just make sure to let us know you're interested in Open Captioning.

Do I need to buy a special ticket for Open Captioning?
You don’t need a special ticket, but you do need to tell the Box Office when you order your tickets that you wish to use Open Captioning so that they seat you in a place for good viewing of the screen.

I’m a subscriber. Can I change my ticket to the Open Captioning performance?
Yes. Call the Box Office at 919.962.7529 (PLAY) and they will help you exchange your ticket.

Are there wheelchair seats or seats on the ground level for Open Captioning?
Yes.  Just tell the Box Office that you need a Wheelchair or first-row seat when you purchase your ticket.

Will I have to use a device or special equipment?
No. By purchasing a ticket in the designated Open Captioning section, you will be able to read the screen without a device or special equipment.

Does a ticket for Open Captioning cost extra?
No. Tickets to sit in the Open Captioning section are the same price as all other seats.

Do I need to arrive early for Open Captioning?
No. You can arrive at your regular time for the show. We recommend patrons arrive AT LEAST 30 minutes before the performance to allow time to park, get to the theater and to your seat. Information about parking is available by clicking on VISITOR INFO at the top of this page.

Will there still be Assisted Listening Devices available?
Yes. We offer two different types of Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs). The first is a traditional headset, which is worn over the ears with hearing aids removed. The second is a T-coil neckloop, which is worn around the neck and transmits sound directly through your hearing aid. The neckloop will work with all hearing aids that have activated T-coils. Both headsets and neckloops are available to patrons on a first-come, first-served basis and can be obtained from our Coat Check, located to the left of the Box Office.

Will Open Captioning be available for every PlayMakers show?
Open Captioning will be available for one performance of all Mainstage shows. See above for specific dates.

Why is PlayMakers using Open Captioning?
PlayMakers wants as many people as possible to have the best possible experience at its performances and events. Open Captioning makes the theater enjoyable for many more people. Let us know what you think of the service by writing to prcboxoffice@unc.edu.

I have more questions. Can I talk with someone about Open Captioning?
Call the Box Office 919.962.7529 (PLAY) to discuss ticketing for Open Captioning. For other questions, contact Julie Lucier, Audience Services Manager, at lucierj@email.unc.edu. Julie oversees audience accessibility programs at PlayMakers.