Assisted Shows

The term 'assisted performances' describes the various ways in which a performance can be more accessible to a sensory disabled audience. These different ways include BSL sign language interpretation, captioning, live subtitling and audio description.

BSL sign language interpretation delivered by an interpreter, gives a sign interpretation of the text sung and/or spoken by artists in the onstage production. Unless otherwise stated the signer will usually stand on stage left (at Sadler's Wells), which means you need to sit auditorium right in order to get the best view.

Captioning is similar to subtitling and gives deaf, deafened and hard of hearing patrons access to performance. At a captioned performance the words are displayed on an LED screen (or screens), placed near the stage or in the set and can be seen at the same time as they are spoken or sung. Speakers' names, sound effects and offstage noises are also sometimes shown. A trained captioner prepares the script in advance, so as to mirror the rhythm and flow of the performance, then operates the captions as the action happens on stage.

Captioning is also helpful for patrons whose first language is not English, anyone who has difficulty following strong accents and students who are studying the text of a production. This service is usually provided by STAGETEXT.

Live Subtitling gives deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people access to show talks through English text. A speech-to-text reporter, using a special phonetic keyboard, transcribes the speaker's words so that the audience can follow what is being said and join in the discussion afterwards. This service is provided by STAGETEXT.

Audio Description is the means whereby blind and partially sighted audiences can experience theatre; it is a live verbal commentary providing information on the visual elements of a production as it unfolds. It describes action that is essential to the understanding of the performance, as well as other visual information such as the style and design, sets, costumes, facial expressions and visual jokes that might otherwise be missed. Patrons listen to the description through a discreet headset. Audio description is usually preceded by a touch tour of the set.

Deaf Debating Dance (DDD) Offers an allocation of seats for our deaf patrons on dance performances or for show talks which are assisted with BSL interpretation, live subtitling or captioning.

For more information and advice on where to sit during an assisted performance, please contact the ticket office:0844 412 4300, via minicom on 020 7863 8015 or e-mail at

For general access information please contact Sara Daniels on 020 7863 8205 or via e-mail at

Our current Assisted Performance and Events programme is as follows:

Assisted Performances

Alexander Whitley – Overflow
Friday 21 May, 7.30pm
Audio Described Performance

Rambert – Draw from Within
Thursday 3 June, 7.30pm
Audio Described Performance

Northern Ballet – Dangerous Liaisons
Thursday 10 June, 2.30pm
Audio Described Performance

Breakin’ Convention Presents: Compagnie Niya – Gueules Noire
Friday 2 July, 8pm
Audio Described Performance

Breakin' Convention: Breakout Convention
Saturday 3 & Sunday 4 July
Performances co-compered by a BSL interpreter

NYDC / Alesandra Seutin – Speak Volumes
Saturday 24 July, 7.30pm
Audio Described Performance

Singin' in the Rain
Sunday 29 Aug at 4pm
Captioned Performance

Singin’ in the Rain
Saturday 4 September, 2.30pm
Audio Described Performance (with touch tour at 1pm)

English National Ballet  Creature by Akram Khan
Saturday 25 September, 2.30pm
Audio Described Performance (with touch tour at 1.30pm)

The Snowman 2021
Wednesday 1 December at 2.30pm
Relaxed Performance

Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!
Saturday 15 January, 2.30pm
Audio Described Performance (with touch tour at 1pm)


Coronavirus update: Sadler's Wells welcomes socially distanced audiences from 17 May, in line with the UK Government roadmap. Read more