To make dance accessible to the widest possible range of audiences, Lived Fiction places the aesthetics of access at its core. This is an approach which seeks to address barriers to art whilst also recognising the enormous artistic potential of access. Lived Fiction integrates audio description, creative captioning and a relaxed environment with world class choreography. Allowing each element its own artistic voice so that dance takes on a new form that resonates with all audiences. Our success hinged on deconstructing dance in its purest form and reconstructing it in collaboration with creatives and advisors with lived experience of deafness, disability and neurodivergence. This collaborative approach to accessibility began right at the beginning of our creative process and was not an afterthought.

We want to avoid describing Lived Fiction as ‘universally accessible’. To make every minute of a full-evening’s work accessible to everyone would assume all access needs are the same and disregard personal preferences and unique perspectives. Instead, Lived Fiction has an arc, where the balance of artistry and accessibility ebbs and flows, offering audiences an understanding of how different people might meaningfully experience dance and the wider world. 

An insight into our artistic access arc

Creative Audio Description

Access Artist Lily Norton at a desk, they look down whilst writing in a notebook, a microphone sits on the table alongside a laptop covered in stickers. Lily is a white person with dark brown hair tied up and multiple face piercings.

We are integrating both live and pre-recorded audio description, delivered by our on-stage audio describer and the dancers. The majority of scenes place emphasis on audio description and spoken word, supporting blind and visually impaired audiences with access to the choreography. This also presents opportunities for sighted audiences to engage with dance work in a new way. In some scenes text and description is pared back, leaving space for the music, sounds of the dancers, the space, and the costumes to do the descriptive work.

Creative Captions

A male wheelchair dancer is in the middle of a dimly lit stage with the caption projected on the backdrop, which reads: Windmilling an arm he tips sideways onto one wheel - balancing, one hand on the floor, he looks up at his other hand, fingers rubbing together - almost seasoning the air. Photography by Jules Renahan.

We feel that the work is visually rich and engaging for Deaf audiences, supported by creative captioning and digital projections working together to artistically express the choreography, spoken word and music. Through consultation with our Deaf, Disabled, neurodivergent and non-disabled collaborators and creatives, we made a collective decision to not incorporate sign language interpretation during the performance. However we will work with host venues to provide sign language interpreters for any pre or post show talks and announcements. 

Relaxed Performances

The cast of Lived Fiction is staring directly into the camera. Mo is sat on her wheelchair behind a desk with Lily standing to her left. Nadenh, Christian, Emily, Jannick and Hannah are lying under the desk with Nadenh, Emily and Jannick wearing coloured sunglasses. Photography by Chris Parkes

We warmly welcome Learning Disabled and neurodivergent audiences to Lived Fiction and are committing to core elements of Relaxed Performances. Our Access Guide will be working with the host venue’s Front of House staff to implement this, ensuring a committed shared approach to access. 

  • We will be making information about the show available well in advance of performances, through a Visual Story and supporting videos.
  • We welcome voluntary and involuntary noise and movement in the auditorium.
  • We will have the house lights on at a sufficient level and leave the auditorium doors open throughout the performance, and we welcome audiences entering and exiting the auditorium at any time. 
  • The host venue will have a Quiet Space available before, during, and after the performance. 
  • We will have an Access table set-up in the foyer of every performance, where audiences will be able to access resources, alternative format programmes and sensory supports such as ear defenders and sunglasses. 

There will be no specific adjustments to the sound or lighting during the show. The show uses text, music and soundscapes, with varying levels of noise. When available, please take a look at our visual and sonic stories which share more about the sound levels. In particular, the eight-minute scene called ‘Tight Textures’ in the middle of act one has loud bass-filled music and bright moving lights. We will provide an in-show warning before ‘Tight Textures’. This will allow people to prepare for the scene and potentially leave the auditorium temporarily if they wish to.

Information on what to expect in ‘Tight Textures’ and the other scenes of Lived Fiction is available through our visual story and supporting videos. These are designed to enable audiences to make informed decisions on the suitability of the work. Links to these are available from the buttons below.

The visual story and supporting videos will be made available to view on tablets at our access table on the performance day. Please ask the host venue’s Front of House team or Stopgap’s Access Guide. They can also support you to come and go from the auditorium.

This is an image of Lauren, our Access Guide. She is sitting behind a laptop smiling. She has long wavey brown hair, with a fringe. She is wearing a purple shirt over a black t-shirt. Photography by Chris Parkes.