Tafsila Khan

Review ‘The Importance of Being Described… Earnestly?’ by Tafsila Khan


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


This is a brand-new play produced by Chloe Clarke in collaboration with Elbow Room Theatre Company and Galeri Caernarfon.

The play is a layered piece with audio description not just integrated into the play but the main creative narrative. With the actors playing actors of a fictious theatre company which is producing an adaptation of Oscar Wildes famous play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.

The play is set in the rehearsal room of the fictious theatre company. As you enter you are welcomed in by the cast and shown to your seats. The structure of the seating area is in a circle around the performance, you have a sense of being quite exposed. As the show progresses the reasoning for this seating arrangement becomes more apparent, as members of the audience are asked to participate in various scenes of the show.

The play begins with the cast introducing themselves to ensure that members of the audience know where they are, Tobias the director begins the show with a monologue about audio description and how it is integrated into the show. Tobias describes how the show will take us on a journey together for the next 60 minutes.

The cause of audio description has been taken up by Tobias as he has started having to wear glasses. Despite the director being well intentioned, what ensues is comedy of errors with the actors disagreeing about the best way to audio describe the scenes.

You get the sense very early on that Tobias who is played amazingly by Dean Rehman, is clueless in how to integrate audio description into the play. Tobias gets very defensive when the two blind actors played by Chloe Clarke and Jake Sawyers who play Jen and Greg in the show give any feedback on his descriptions. Eventually getting annoyed by the constant criticism Tobias launches into a rant about how without him the blind actors wouldn’t even have a chance to be part of the play, the rant takes a dark turn with Tobias swearing and using offensive language to describe the disabled actors. Leaving the actors feeling humiliated and the audience feeling uncomfortable.

As the cast quibble about how and what to describe, time ticks away with the play never being started. When the stage manager announces that there are just five minutes remaining of the show, Tobias decides to abandon the audio description and go straight to the last scene of the play.

The last scene is an intimate scene between Earnest and Gwendolen…or is it?

I really enjoyed the show, I feel it highlighted two main issues with access in the arts. One being that as portrayed in this show most of the time the people who know more about what the audience needs are often ignored and dismissed by hierarchy.  Secondly the fact that the audio description has been left until open rehearsals to integrate into the performance shows as often in theatre access is an afterthought rather than an integral tool in the creativity of the piece. I also enjoyed the different ways popular stereotypes of blind and visually impaired were played on which brought a lot of the comedy to the piece.

The production plays at Galeri Carnarfon from 01/11-4/11/2018

The performance on 03.11.2018, 19:00 is BSL Interpreted

Tickets can be purchase here

Tafsila Khan

Directed by Chloë Clarke
Associate Director Robbie Bowman
Created by Elbow Room Theatre

Cast: Chloë Clarke, Dean Rehman, Lizzie Rogan, Jake Sawyers

Age Guide: 16+

Review The Flop, Hijinx Theatre Company by Tafsila Khan

Director: Ben Pettit-Wade

Company: Hijinx in association with Spymonkey

Reviewer: Tafsila Khan

Following the hit Meet Fred in 2016 Hijinx introduce The Flop in association with Spymonkey.

Set in Paris in 1657 where impotence is illegal. The plays centre on Marquis de Laney and Marie Sant-Simon who despite being married for several years have yet to produce an heir. With the future of the aristocracy at stake the Marquis’s aunt and grandfather set about finding out why. What follows is a fast-paced show which is made all the more chaotic with audience participation and improvisation from the cast.

This chaotic theme extends to the stage which is a series of pink flaps where at any given time characters pop in and out from. One of the more surreal scenes is when a robot randomly appears and starts to chase the Marquis. You soon find that this is the running theme that really anything can happen and probably will.

Improvisation, effortless comedic timing, playing instruments and singing really shows the incredible abilities of the actors. The relationship between the Marquis and his manservant was reminiscent of Basil Fawlty and Manuel from Fawlty Towers.

I was lucky enough to catch the audio described preview showing at Chapter in Cardiff. The show will be officially launched at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, followed by a UK tour in the Autumn. I think this show will go down really well in the festival as it is hilarious and at times surreal, the fact that the actors don’t take themselves very seriously adds to the charm of the show. Sami Thorpe BSL interpreter and Beth House who audio described were kept on their toes with the improvisation, with both doing a sterling job. Being visually impaired I found the audio description was on point despite the fast-paced nature of the show.

Hijinx is an inclusive theatre company who make sure that at the heart of every production they include cast members with learning difficulties. with very loose French accents, big wigs, slapstick humour and adult content and black masking tape for moustaches.

The cast

Ted Lishman

Hannah Mcpake

Jess Mabel Jones

Ian Gibbons

Adam Webb

Jonathan Pugh

Review Double Vision, Gagglebabble, Wales Millennium Centre, Festival of Voice by Tafsila Khan

Double Vision is a brand-new thriller co-produced by Wales Millennium centre and the award-winning theatre company Gaggle Babble for Festival of Voice 2018. This is a very ambitious and multi-sensory show which is predominantly set on a luxury cruise liner called The Empress of the Sea.

As you take your seat in the auditorium you can already sense you are about to embark on a journey filled with humour and a surreal feeling, as you are seated by ushers played by members of the cast, who don’t seem to know when the show is about to start.

The show opens with the amazing voice of Lisa Jen Brown who is a member of the welsh folk band 9Bach who plays Serena in the show. The show has no interval but there is a definite sense of it being split into two halves.

The first half begins with the weird and wonderful guests boarding the cruise liner, this half of the show is performed behind a white gauze sheet, which reduces the visual nature of the show for the audience. Mel played by Mared Jarman works in the Bijoux bar on board with Serena who mesmerises the guests with her haunting voice as the singer in the bar. You get the sense that the women are good friends and get a sense from Mel’s character that she is very fond of Serena and is very protective of her. This makes sense a bit later in the show when you find out that Serena is blind. One night after performing at her usual spot in the bar Serena tells Mel that she is looking to leave the ship once it docks in Miami, this throws Mel who does not want her to leave. Another point in the show where again you feel Mel is protective over Serena is when the ship docks in Havana and the women get separated. This scene is in the middle of a nightclub where there are steamers which are released on to the audience and balloons printed with a single eye that are thrown into the audience.

In the second half of the show the white sheet is dropped making the view clearer to the audience. The atmosphere onboard changes from a light humour, to one of terror and danger as the ship is caught up in a storm. We learn that one of the passengers have fallen overboard and with this the story takes a dark turn of a surreal nature.

I was lucky enough to catch the last showing of this production which for me contained amazing singing, music and performances from all the cast. This show was very accessible for visually impaired people as a detailed touch tour was provided before every show and also the cast did an amazing job with integrating audio description into the show. I hope to see more work like this in the future and feel that Gaggle Babble have set the bar quite high. I look forward to attending the next production by this theatre company and see where they take it from here.

Review Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice), Arcade Cardiff Exhibition, Artists: Penny D Jones, Gemma Green-hope and Sally Richmond by Tafsila Khan

Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice) exhibition

Artists: Penny D Jones, Gemma Green-hope and Sally Richmond

An installation of touch and sound.

The exhibition is in the gallery ArcadeCardiff Queens Arcade, Queens Street, Cardiff CF10 2BY arcadecardiff.co.uk

Opening Night:18th April 2018 from 6pm-8pm

The exhibition continues from Thursday 19th April until Saturday 5th May

It is open Wednesdays to Saturdays 12:30-5:30

The Gallery ArcadeCardiff is situated within the Queens Arcade shopping centre, the Gallery space opened in 2011 and aims to provide a place for upcoming and established artists to experiment, test out ideas or show new work.

The latest exhibition by Penny D Jones brought together her two interests, women’s voices and the Welsh language. The exhibition was a feast for the senses, with a textured quilt and tactile ceramic work which played a recording of Welsh women speaking in Welsh.

Penny wanted this exhibition to be inclusive and accessible for visually impaired and blind people, this was done well as the exhibition was enjoyed through touch and sound. The pieces of art were all black so worked a little as a leveller for sighted people and people with visual impairments.

One of the pieces had no sound so you were able interpret from it what it made you feel. I have to say this was my favourite piece as I am not a Welsh speaker, however, Penny was on hand to interpret for the other pieces.

This is the first accessible exhibition I have visited, it has my wetted my appetite to find more exhibitions like this.

For more information on this exhibition please go to https://llaismenywod.wordpress.com/

Tafsila Khan

Preview Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice) exhibition by Tafsila Khan

Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice) exhibition

Artists: Penny D Jones, Gemma Green-Hope and Sally Richmond

An installation of touch and sound.

Opening Night: 18th April 2018 6pm-8pm
Exhibition runs from Thursday 19th April until Saturday 5th May (Wednesdays to Saturdays 12:30pm-5:30pm)

Location: Arcade Cardiff, 3b, Queens Arcade, Queen St, Cardiff CF10 2BY

You can listen to Tafsila discussing this exhibition with Penny with the sound file below.

As a visually impaired person I have shied away from attending art exhibitions in the past, as they are normally very visual and often you are not able to touch the art. Last week I met up with Penny D Jones to discuss her upcoming art exhibition called Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice), the exhibition is a touch and sound experience which Penny hopes will encourage blind and VI people to attend. Penny was originally a painter and still loves to paint, however at the age of 55 Penny attended art college which opened up the world of contemporary art. Penny says that her mind was blown with the possibilities of using different ways to communicate with people.

Penny explained that the exhibition carries on from an earlier piece of work called Llais Menywod (Women’s Voice) in this piece of work she made recordings of predominantly young women having conversations in Welsh about what interested them. For this upcoming exhibition she has taken extracts from the recordings and will use them as soundbites. This exhibition is made up of three different pieces, the first is a large black quilt created by Penny made up of different textured materials, which have an electrical wire threaded through to a speaker which when touched each square of the quilt gives a soundbite of a woman’s voice. The second piece is a smaller quilt which is made up of ceramic tiles, which also houses the sound bites and can be listened to via headphones, Penny worked with different artists on this piece, one of the artists was Sally Richmond. The final piece is a collection of tiles with different textures on the wall which has no sound, so you can enjoy and interpret from them your own ideas. Penny has said that the exhibition contains two of her interests, women’s voices, and the Welsh language. To hear longer extracts of the conversations please follow this link here

To find out more about the exhibition you can pick up a braille or large print version of the leaflet at Cardiff Institute for the Blind (CIB) or listen to the bilingual audio flyer and this can be found in Welsh and English below

Tafsila Khan