A listing of captioned theater events can be found on the HLAA-PA  calendar

 Choose the "Captions"  category at the bottom.


A. Theaters that sometimes supply open captioning include the following: 


    In Pittsburgh:



B.  Open captioning (it means everyone can see it) works this way. 


  • A caption screen is in the front. 
  • An employee using a computer has a complete script of the play. 
  • That employee feeds the script onto the screen in sync with what actors are saying onstage. 
  • Audience members sitting close enough to the caption screen should be able to read the captions.                     

C. How often do live theaters offer captioning?

- Many never do.

- Typically a participating theater may have captions on one or two performances of a play.  They do not necessarily do this for every play.  Usually in the brochures they distribute, captioned performances will be indicated by “oc” for open captions.  Your best bet is to call the box office and inquire.


D. What can go wrong?

- You may be seated in the wrong section of the theater to see the caption board.

- The caption board may be placed where no one can watch it and the actors simultaneously.

- Sometimes the captions may get ahead of or behind the actors.


E. What can you do?

- Bear in mind that live theaters, unlike cinemas, aren’t required by ADA to caption.  And it does involve an expense to buy or rent the screen and employ someone to work it.  But if your favorite theater never captions, call them and ask why not.

- When you find a show you want to see, call the box office to check on date(s) with captioning.  When you make a reservation, ask to be seated in the caption-viewing section.  Right before the show begins, check the seat out and notify the box office if it doesn’t work.

- Finally a suggestion from Mimi Kenney Smith, formerly from Philly’s Amaryllis Theatre and an expert on theater captioning.  If a theater is offering captions on a night you can’t make it, call the theater to ask if they could also add captions on another night you can be there.  Mimi points out that the theater has already bought or rented a caption screen and is training the actors and the captioner for that play, so doing it one more time is relatively inexpensive.  Might be worth a try!



Information provided by Pat McGeever of the Center City Chapter.