When Romeo & Juliet with Stagetext was announced at the Abbey Theatre, my reaction was mixed.
Stagetext (theatre captioning) had worked well for me with “The Playboy of the Western World” last November.
However, I was concerned about:
1) how well Stagetext would handle the complexities of Shakespearean verse
2) how the soliloquies would be relayed in Stagetext, four lines at a time
3) the speed of Stagetexting, which was extremely fast for The Playboy
4) having the concentration to follow a full Shakespearean play via Stagetext
Before buying tickets to the play, I emailed these concerns to Stagetext.
Their response was that Stagetext captioners are taught to work with Shakespeare during training. Verse would not be copied as it appeared in a Shakespeare text, but would be prepared up-front.
The actual Romeo & Juliet production was entertaining, visually stimulating and very accessible. Kudos to Stagetext for potentially risking its display units in the rain during the first act!
My main issue was the location of the Stagetext displays at the extreme left and right of the stage. Several times I found myself reading to the extreme right of the stage when the actors were in the centre, or vice versa.
Positioning the display units centre left and centre right might be a possible solution? This verdict was shared by my (hearing) companion, who used Stagetext for the long passages.
At times the text needed fast reading before it vanished from the screen but this was a small hitch.
My first-ever experience of Shakespeare on stage was positive and I’ll be back. Many thanks!