Nari Jennings grew up in a house without sound. She isn’t deaf, but her family has a history of genetic deafness. It’s that background which drove her and partner Alex French to break down the barriers of disability in everyday life and the theatre.
“As my mother was becoming profoundly deaf, a lot of noise and music was really distressing to her. I grew up in a home where, out of courtesy to my mum, the TV was always on mute and we didn’t play any music,” Jennings says.
When Jennings was sixteen years old, her only hearing aunt took her to see Puccini’s La Boheme.
“It changed my life. I’d never been to a live event before. I’d never heard singing like that. I’d never seen the costumes. I remember just sitting there and thinking I want to find a way to bring my family and friends who are deaf to come and experience this, because I’d never seen anything like it.”
Jennings and French co-founded The Captioning Studio in Adelaide, South Australia, in 2004. Their Go Theatrical! technology, now a mobile and tablet app, is now the only theatre captioning technology used in Australia. Almost every major venue and production uses it, including The Sydney Opera House and musicals such as WICKED – opening up the whole world of theatre and performance to the hearing impaired.
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