Ioan Gwyn and Innovation in Audio Description for Welsh Dance.

The director of Get the Chance Guy O’Donnell recently met with actor and audio describer Ioan Gwyn. They discussed his background, his recent audio description training supported by Coreo Cymru and his thoughts on the arts in Wales.

You can listen to this interview with Ioan at the link below.

Hi Ioan, a pleasure to meet you can you tell me more about  yourself and your practice?

Hi, I’m originally from Tal-y-bont in Ceredigion and I’ve been an actor for over ten years now, having trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama. I’m a bit of a newcomer to the world of Audio Description and I’m loving it!

You have recently received audio description training from Dr Louise Fryer, BBC Radio 3 Presenter and Audio Describer, and Anne Hornsby of Mind’s Eye, both pioneers in UK audio description as part of the Family Dance Festival.

The training was organised by Carole Blade, Creative Producer for Dance in Wales with Coreo Cymru. Can you give us more information on this training?

It was very whoooosh! Louise and Anne gave us a thorough breakdown of the function and importance of Audio Describing for a blind or visually impaired audience and also explained the process of crafting a script for a live stage production. This was all done over a long weekend so it was a lot to cram in but every piece of information and advice was golden and they were both so open to my myriad of questions and queries, I am forever in their debt. They both admitted that dance is by far the hardest art form to Audio Describe so I’ve hit the ground running!

Prior to this did you have any knowledge of audio description for theatre/dance?

Last year I worked with Taking Flight Theatre Company who do fantastic work with producing plays that provide access to D/deaf and visually impaired audiences. Thus whilst playing both Caliban and Ferdinand, I also had to AD a few bits throughout the show so perhaps that was my maiden voyage into the AD world.

Ioan (left) in the Tempest with performer Sam Bees. Photographic Credit Jorge Lizalde

Later in the year I worked with Chlöe Clarke and Sami Thorpe’s company, Elbow Room Theatre, on their production “The Importance of Being Described Earnestly” which wove the AD into the fabric of the text and was a terrific experience.

I’ve also recorded an audiobook for the RNIBs library.

Congratulations you are Wales first audio describer in the Welsh Language! What interest have you had in this new service to improve access from the Welsh speaking community?

Diolch yn fawr! As there hasn’t been a Welsh speaking audio describer before, it may well be a case of making communities and companies aware of this now, but based on the interest I’ve encountered and the random emails asking if “Are you actually a welsh speaking audio describer?” I can confirm the demand is there! We took the dance festival to Galeri in Caernarfon and I met a visually impaired Welsh speaking lady who regularly visits Galeri for various audio described events. She attended our show and she was very enthusiastic about the prospect of being able to go to Welsh language theatre that was audio described.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists?

There will always be barriers in various guises and it’s up to everyone to spot them, acknowledge them, and remove them. Sometimes knocking politely isn’t the answer, sometimes you have to kick the door in.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

Film. I did my B.A in Film Studies and it’s a long-standing ambition of mine to make a film one day! Wales has a wealth of stories to tell, and not merely from our folklore like Y Mabinogi, but in contemporary Wales. Why are other countries able to regularly fund and produce relevant vital films and Wales aren’t? One day I’d like to go to the cinema to see a macabre comedy set in Llandudno, or a Welsh Language Sci-fi film set in post-apocalyptic Aberystwyth.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

There’s always something going on in some capacity. Whether it’s a small music festival, a touring theatre show, or a new piece of writing on S4C. I think there’s just about something for almost everybody going on at some time, and personally I just enjoy working with such talented people from Wales and those who have settled here and are making the arts scene richer with their presence.

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

It was a while ago now but I had a great time at Flossy & Boo’s Alternativity, bursting with originality and The Other Room is a great space to see theatre.

As a side-note I’d add that as a self-professed comic book fan, seeing the Welsh flag at the end of Black Panther had me struggling to contain my inner-nerd…

Thanks for your time Ioan

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