Center Stage, Mechanic offer audio-description service for visually impaired patrons


Center Stage and the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre will now use an audio-description system that will help those with poor vision to better understand what is happening on stage.

The new system, run by trained volunteers, debuts at today's matinee performance of "The Triumph of Love" at Center Stage.

Audio description is transmitted through lightweight radio head sets which are provided to theater goers free of charge. Before a performance, the FM broadcast offers program notes and scene-setting information. During the show, volunteers watch the stage action from a special broadcast booth and speak during pauses in the dialogue. They describe relevant costumes, props and physical action.

The broadcast is imperceptible to audience members who are not wearing headsets.

Although any patron attending an audio-described performance may request a headset, priority will go to those with visual impairments. Patrons can reserve headsets when they purchase their tickets.

Volunteers are trained through the Maryland Technology Assistance Program, a federally funded program of the Governor's Office for Individuals with Disabilities. The Maryland State Arts Council has also provided assistance with the new system.

Only certain performances will offer this new service. At Center Stage, audio-described performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. Sundays on Dec. 5, Feb. 13, Mar. 20, May 1 and June 5. (Additional performances may be added if the demand is great enough and if there are enough audio-description volunteers.)

The Mechanic Theatre will offer two audio-described performances -- at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays -- for each subscription production. The dates are Nov. 6, Nov. 9, Dec. 11, Dec. 14, Feb. 26, March 1, March 26, March 29, April 16, April 19, May 14 and May 17.

For information about the performances at Center Stage, call (410) 332-0033. For information about performances at the Mechanic, call (410) 625-4230.


Maryland choreographers are invited to apply for a workshop taught by choreographer and dancer Trisha Brown to run Jan. 10-15 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 5401 Wilkens Ave. Sponsored by the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture and Baltimore's Festival of the Arts, Inc., the workshop is free to selected participants.

A MacArthur Foundation fellowship winner, Ms. Brown established her own dance company in 1970 and has created an extensive repertory known for its structural rigor and kineticism. She has worked recently on large-scale theatrical collaborations with such artists as Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage and Laurie Anderson.

Ms. Brown will choose all 15 participants for this year's workshop which will focus on composition.

Applicants must submit a completed application form and videotape to the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Arts and Culture by Oct. 29. For details, call (410) 396-4575.


Those interested in community arts instruction are invited to attend sessions of the annual conference of The National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, scheduled Nov. 18-21 at the Hyatt Hotel, Peabody Institute and other historic locations in the city.

The conference will offer workshops, demonstrations and panel discussions. Founded in 1937, the guild represents 186 community schools for the arts which are diverse in age, size, finances and programs. (The oldest school, the Peabody Preparatory, was founded in 1894.) These schools aim to provide high quality, affordable instruction to all segments of the population.

For information about registration and a schedule of events, call the guild's headquarters in Princeton, N.J., at (201) 871-3337.


A free concert of Chinese choral music, performed by the Tung-Hsin Choral Society, is scheduled at 3 p.m. Oct. 31 in the Chapel at Charlestown Retirement Community, 711 Maiden Choice Lane in Catonsville.

All of the music will be sung in Chinese and narrated in English. For details, call (410) 247-3400, Ext. 577.


Singers must schedule an audition by Nov. 1 to take part in an opera workshop held during the winter session of Carroll Community College in Westminster. Taught by Evan Walker, the college's music director, the course will lead to a February performance of scenes from a variety of musicals and operas. For additional information and to schedule an audition, call (410) 876-9621.

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