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Welcome to Playable and Inclusive Theatrical Prop Making Research Project!

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Tinkerprop project partner – Extant Theatre – the UK’s leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists and theatre practitioners. Extant pioneered theatre practice with the express inclusion of visually impaired  performers and audiences.

About me

My name is Magdalena and I’m a User Experience (UX) professional and theatre artist with a background in Occupational Therapy, Psychology, and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). I’m also an accessibility advocate, and I run Bepartofit Hub, which is a voluntary organisation addressing social issues in an inclusive way by creating opportunities and implications of accessible technology to champion and support people with disabilities, hearing impairments, and mental health conditions.

This project was created as a part of my MSc in Human-Computer Interaction course at University College London (UCL). I was researching how accessible games can help blind and visually impaired people design theatre props. My interest in inclusion, employment, theatre, tinkering and “making” stems from my previous experience of working with blind and partially sighted (BPS) artists, designers and coders whose work and/or artistic aspirations have often gone unsupported and unnoticed. Thus, this research project aims to provide a platform for raising awareness on the specific issues that blind and visually impaired creatives face in relation to artistic and design-focused education and employment and to enable aspiring designers with visual impairments to work creatively with the theatre sector on improving access and inclusion.

Research Information

University College London and Extant Theatre involved participants with visual impairments in study on prop design.

WHAT WAS THE STUDY ABOUT?

The motivation for this study was to enable more blind and partially sighted people to enter the workplace in the discipline of prop design within the Theatre, TV and Film industry. We wished to explore what digital tools (i.e. accessible games) for prop creation can help both sighted and non-sighted people develop proposals for work in the area of prop design. It is important that we understand people’s experience and preference for the different styles of prop design learning and support tools. The outcome of this study aimed to prototype and evaluate a tool and guidance that can be shared with the theatre industry.

The project was a collaboration between the University College London (UCL), Global Disability Innovation Hub, and Extant Theatre as a part of an MSc research thesis. This study was composed as a prop design work-based simulation where participants taking part in the design phase of this study went through a prop-design process experimenting with ideas whilst working in line with a professional design brief.

WHAT PARTICIPANTS NEEDED TO DO? 

Participation involved:

  • Filling in a background survey.
  • Meeting remotely with the researcher to discuss study ideas via online call using a free conversation application called Microsoft Teams.
  • Working remotely on your prop design project. During the two hours, you will be inventing a prop idea for a theatre play. Since time is short, you will be working on your idea using a 1-2 page long concept design document listing design specifications and requirements. In your concept design document, you will present your basic prop idea and outline how to utilize the prop within the play, explaining and defending all choices made. Concept design documents are concise short descriptions of a prop idea, technique, methodology, or solution for specific problems in technical theatre production. The document should use text and/or simple graphics to explain the design proposal as a response to the presented brief.
  • Optionally, we can send you simple craft materials such as wax sticks, paper, pencil, and plasticine. You may use these to add a visual concept design to your prop design document, but only if you wish so.
  • Prop design work won’t require any graphic design or digital design skills. Your idea and general understanding of how to go about designing your prop idea are the most important and we will not assess any mainstream standard level aesthetical and or grammatical elements of your work.
  • Sharing with us your prop design related experience.

All participants needed to be a novice or beginner designers or artists with little or no prior experience in prop making.

STUDY STATUS

Completed – publication version in progress. The thesis attained a distinction and I’m determined to further reflect upon the process and implement the research findings in practice involving an extended collaboration with the disability community and theatre sector.

Thank you for your consideration.