Friday, November 27

Watch live theatre performances in eight languages

A new device has just been launched which enables theatregoers to read live captions of a performance in eight different language.

AirScript is a new device which provides captions over WiFi which scrolls through live theatre performances in  English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese or Chinese. The translations have been done by interpreters rather than translation software which can sometime be a bit inaccurate.

Cambridge Consultants have developed the handsets to attract more tourists (which represent more than one third of West End audiences).  The devices have a black background and orange text to minimise glare and not prove a distraction to other members of the audience. The battery life is up to six hours.

The Shaftesbury Theatre is the first to offer the AirScript handsets. Theatregoers will be asked to pay £6 to hire the device during a performance of Hairspray. The handsets contain very little software and up to 200 handsets can run simultaneously in the auditorium.

An operator ensures that each line hits the screens at the same time as it is delivered on stage. Because live performances always vary the process cannot be automated. One of the Hairspray operator’s biggest challenges is how to deal with Phill Jupitus' (Edna Turnblad)  ad-libbing!

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