Blindness

The Donmar Warehouse production of Blindness
a socially distanced sound installation

Begins November 17, 2020
Tickets and on sale information will be announced at a later date.
This presentation is not part of the 2020/21 Subscription Season

As the lights change at a major crossroads in a city in the heart of Europe a car grinds to a halt. Its driver can drive no more. Suddenly, without warning or cause, he has gone blind. Within hours it is clear that this is a blindness like no other. This blindness is infectious. Within days an epidemic of blindness has spread through the city. The government tries to quarantine the contagion by herding the newly blind people into an empty asylum. But their attempts are futile. The city is in panic.

Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, for which he won both the Tony and Olivier awards for best play) has adapted Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s dystopian novel Blindness as a sound installation directed by Walter Meierjohann with immersive binaural sound design by Ben and Max Ringham. Juliet Stevenson voices the Storyteller/Doctor’s wife in this gripping story of the rise and, ultimately, profoundly hopeful end of an unimaginable global pandemic.

JULIET STEVENSON
Voice of the Storyteller/Doctor’s wife

Juliet Stevenson is one of Britain’s leading actors. Her most recent theatre credits include The Doctor - for which she won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actress and is currently nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress, Mary Stuart, Hamlet (Almeida/West End); Wings, Happy Days (Young Vic). Juliet won the 1991 Olivier Award for Best Actress for her performance in Death and the Maiden, and has been nominated a further five times.

Juliet has received five BAFTA nominations for her work on screen. Her films include Truly, Madly, Deeply - Evening Standard Film Award for Best Actress; Bend it like Beckham; When did you last see your Father?; Being Julia.

Juliet’s latest television work includes Riviera and Out of her Mind, a comedy series with Sara Pascoe which will air from September. Her other credits include One of Us and The Enfield Haunting, and she appeared as a series regular in Atlantis and The Village. She was awarded the CBE in 1999.

SIMON STEPHENS
Writer

Simon Stephens is an Olivier and Tony award-winning playwright. His theatre credits include Fortune (Metropolitan, Tokyo); Maria, Rage (Thalia, Hamburg); The Threepenny Opera (NT); Fatherland (MIF 2017/Lyric Hammersmith/LIFT Festival 2018); Heisenberg (West End); Obsession (Barbican/Toneelgroep, Amsterdam); The Seagull, Herons, Morning, Three Kingdoms, A Thousand Stars that Explode in the Sky, Punk Rock (Lyric Hammersmith); Carmen Disruption (Deutsches Schauspielhaus/Almeida); Nuclear War, Birdland, Country Music, Bluebird (Royal Court); The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time - Olivier and Tony Awards for Best New Play (NT/West End/Broadway); A Doll’s House (Young Vic/West End); Sea Wall (Bush); Harper Regan, Port (Royal Exchange, Manchester/NT); On the Shore of the Wide World (Royal Exchange, Manchester). He has also written for film, television and radio.

Simon is a professor at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and Artistic Associate at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Walter Meierjohann was Artistic Director of HOME from 2013 to 2018 and International Associate Director at the Young Vic in London. At the Young Vic, his productions included the European premiere of In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell McCraney and Kafka’s Monkey, which toured to Sydney, Melbourne, Athens, Paris, Tokyo, Istanbul, Taipei and New York. The production, which starred Kathryn Hunter, also showed in HOME’s 2015 opening season, with Hunter reprising her lead role.

Walter has worked extensively in Germany and the UK at theatres including: the Barbican; Liverpool Playhouse; Nottingham Playhouse; The Curve, Leicester; Residenztheater, Munich; Staatsschauspiel, Dresden; Schauspiel, Graz; and Arena, Berlin, for Peter Stein’s Faust Ensemble and Impulse Theatre Festival. Prior to joining the Young Vic, Walter was Artistic Director of Neubau at the State Theatre of Dresden. In opera, he has assisted the late Klaus-Michael Grueber in his productions of Aida (Nederlands Opera, Amsterdam) and Don Giovanni (Ruhrfestspiele).

BEN AND MAX RINGHAM
Sound Designers

In 2019 Ben and Max, together with writer Ella Hickson, created ANNA - a headphone based show at the National Theatre. They are co-creators of the immersive theatre company Wiretapper and associate artists with the Shunt Collective. Four time Olivier Award nominees, last year they were awarded the H-100 2019 Award for Innovation in Theatre and Performance. Recent credits for the Donmar include Teenage Dick, Berberian Sound Studio and Belleville and their other recent theatre credits include Cyrano de Bergerac, Pinter at the Pinter (West End); Betrayal (West End/Broadway); The Seven Ages of Patience, Pass Over (Kiln); Ugly Lies the Bone, Tartuffe (NT); Pygmalion (UK Tour); Party Skills (Shoreditch Town Hall); The Meeting (Chichester); Machinal (Almeida); Love and Information (Sheffield Theatres); Gloria (Hampstead). Other composition and sound design work includes Frida Kahlo - Making Herself Up at The V&A, Mirror Maze and Room 2022 with Es Devlin, Rembrandt - The Late Works at The National Gallery, The Inspection Chamber for Alexa, BBC Research and Development.

LIZZIE CLACHAN
Designer

Lizzie Clachan is a renowned theatre and opera designer and was one of the co-founders of the Shunt collective in 1998. Her previous work at the Donmar includes Far Away and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Other recent theatre includes A Number (Bridge); The Son (Kiln/West End); The Nico Project (MIFl/Melbourne Festival); Rutherford & Son, Absolute Hell, As You Like It, A Woman Killed with Kindness, Treasure Island, Edward II (NT); Cyprus Avenue (Royal Court/Abbey, Dublin/Public, NY); Yerma (Young Vic/Armory, NY); Life of Galileo, Macbeth, A Season in the Congo (Young Vic); Tipping the Velvet (Lyric Hammersmith); The Skriker (Royal Exchange, Manchester); Carmen Disruption (Almeida); The Forbidden Zone (Perner Insul, Salzburg); All My Sons (Regent’s Park Open Air); Ibsen Huis (Toneelgroup Amsterdam/Avignon Festival).

Lizzie’s opera credits include Mask of Orpheus, Orphée, Orpheus in the Underworld, Orpheus and Euridice (ENO), Nixon in China (Staatsoper Hannover); Jenůfa (Amsterdam National Opera); La Traviata (Theater Basel/ENO); Pelléas et Mélisande (Teatr Wielki, Poland/Festival d'Aix en Provence); Le Vin Herbé (Staatsoper Berlin); Bliss (Staatsoper Hamburg).

JESSICA HUNG HAN YUN
Lighting Designer

Jessica Hung Han Yun is a multi award-winning lighting designer specialising in installations, theatre, dance and festivals.

Jessica’s recent theatre credits include The Last of the Pelican Daughters (Complicité/ Edinburgh/Royal & Derngate); Fairview (Young Vic); Snowflake (Kiln); Mephisto [A Rhapsody], Dear Elizabeth, The Human Voice (Gate); Equus - Knight of Illumination Award 2019 and Off West End Award for Best Lighting Design (Theatre Royal Stratford East/West End); Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner, Pah-La (Royal Court); Forgotten (Theatre Royal Plymouth/Arcola); Hive City Legacy (Roundhouse with Hot Brown Honey); Cuckoo (Soho); Nine Foot Nine (Bunker); Becoming Shades (Vaults Festival 2018).

DONMAR WAREHOUSE

The Donmar Warehouse is a 251-seat, not-for-profit theatre in Covent Garden, London, led by Artistic Director Michael Longhurst and Executive Director Henny Finch. Their mission is to bring together a wide variety of people in their intimate warehouse space and elsewhere to create, witness and participate in thrilling, world-class theatre.

The Donmar has won more than 100 awards in its 28-year history, with highlights of the programme including founder artistic director Sam Mendes’ productions of Cabaret (with Alan Cumming) and The Blue Room (with Nicole Kidman). Michael Grandage (Artistic Director 2002-2012) brought notable productions of Othello with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ewan McGregor, and Red with Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne. Josie Rourke (AD 2012-2019) brought Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus, and a trilogy of all-female Shakespeare plays directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Current Artistic Director Michael Longhurst’s inaugural 2019-20 season focused on important stories, thrillingly told, and included new play by leading writers including Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Alice Birch and Mike Lew.

ABOUT THE INSTALLATION

Blindness will be “presented” on the stage of the Princess of Wales Theatre and the audience will be seated in “pods” of pairs and single seats spaced eight-feet apart. The Princess of Wales stage is massive: 60-feet deep by 100-feet wide and 220-feet tall.  “On the stage” literally means that the audience will be seated where the actors would traditionally be; the show will happen around the audience as a “sound installation.” This means there will be no actors present. The audience will follow the story solely through an incredible soundscape that includes narration by the illustrious British stage, film and tv actress Juliet Stevenson. The audience will listen to the soundscape through individual headphones.

How long is the sound narrative?
Approximately 70 minutes, without an intermission.

What is the age recommendation and advisory?
Due to the subject matter, we recommend this sound narrative for people aged 15 years and above. Blindness includes strong language. The installation includes extended periods of complete blackout, loud noises, and bright flashing lights and strobe in close proximity to visitors. Blindness contains the following themes: discussion of sexual assault, description of an act of physical assault and explorations of psychological trauma. 

Can I choose where I sit?
Yes, seating is reserved at time of purchase. Each seat distanced at 2.5 metres apart. If you are purchasing two tickets you should ensure you are attending only with someone in your household or social bubble as you will be seated together. If you are attending on your own you can only purchase a single seat.

Will I receive a physical ticket?
Tickets can be delivered via Print-at-Home and Mobile. Mailed tickets are not available.

Do I need to wear a mask?
All visitors will be required to wear a non-medical mask throughout their visit to the theatre.

What other measures are in place for visitor safety?
All staff will be wearing face coverings. There will be a one-way system around the theatre and visitors will be asked to line-up in with physical distancing. There will be sanitization stations available throughout the theatre. All seats, headphones, washrooms and public areas will be thoroughly cleaned between each sound narrative.

What do I do if I feel ill?
Please do not visit the theatre if you feel unwell or are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. If you need to cancel your tickets, we are offering flexible ticket exchanges or a full-refund up to 24 hours prior to the showing. Please email customerservice@ticketking.com.

What amenities will be available at the theatre?
All bars and concessions will be closed, but you are welcome to bring your own reusable water bottle with you into the theatre. Washrooms will be open, and cleaned regularly throughout the day. Access to washrooms will be limited in order to enforce physical distancing.

Is the Box office open and can I buy tickets at the door?
Tickets are available to purchase online only at www.mirvish.com. If you have any queries about your booking you can email customerservice@ticketking.com.

Contact Tracing
For contact tracing purposes, you, as the ticket purchaser will be considered the primary contact for your group and will be expected to have contact info for each member of your party. Data collected for the purpose of selling a ticket and contact tracing will be kept in accordance with our privacy policy, which can be found here. (https://www.mirvish.com/privacy-policy)

What if I have access requirements?
The theatre and seating area are completely accessible. If you require a wheelchair location, please call 1-800-461-3333 to book.

Covid-19 Safety Measures
  • Patrons must bring and wear a non-medical mask, plus remain at least 2 metres apart from other patrons at all times while in the theatre.
  • Tickets must be booked in advance.
  • Please do not arrive earlier than a half hour before your ticketed time.
  • Late arrivals will not be seated under any circumstance.
  • Each seat is distanced at 2.5 metres apart.
  • Enhanced cleaning measures have been put into place before, during and after each sound narrative.
  • Please do not visit the theatre if you feel unwell or are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. If you need to cancel your tickets, please email customerservice@ticketking.com.
  • Please read our FAQ for complete health and safety guidelines.

This special edition of the Donmar Warehouse podcast was recorded in August 2020 to accompany the socially distanced sound installation BLINDNESS.

In this episode, writer Simon Stephens interviews Production Consultant Professor Hannah Thompson to unpack the representations of blindness in BLINDNESS - both José Saramago’s dystopian novel and this adaptation. They take the long view across centuries of literature whilst discussing the exciting possibilities for creatively centring the non-visual in theatre today.

Artistically and technologically pioneering… Stevenson relays the story with her usual impeccable verbal poise. – Daily Telegraph
An exhilarating testament to the power and necessity of art… a unique and unforgettable
achievement. – Metro
Blindness is an exquisitely told story of resilience, violence, and hope. – Guardian

AUDIENCE ADVISORY

Blindness includes strong language. The installation includes extended periods of complete blackout, loud noises, and bright flashing lights and strobe in close proximity to visitors. Blindness contains the following themes: discussion of sexual assault, description of an act of physical assault and explorations of psychological trauma. Recommended for ages 15+.

How long is the sound narrative?
Approximately 70 minutes, without an intermission.

What is the age recommendation and advisory?
Due to the subject matter, we recommend this sound narrative for people aged 15 years and above. Blindness includes strong language. The installation includes extended periods of complete blackout, loud noises, and bright flashing lights and strobe in close proximity to visitors. Blindness contains the following themes: discussion of sexual assault, description of an act of physical assault and explorations of psychological trauma. 

Can I choose where I sit?
Yes, seating is reserved at time of purchase. Each seat distanced at 2.5 metres apart. If you are purchasing two tickets you should ensure you are attending only with someone in your household or social bubble as you will be seated together. If you are attending on your own you can only purchase a single seat.

Will I receive a physical ticket?
Tickets can be delivered via Print-at-Home and Mobile. Mailed tickets are not available.

Do I need to wear a mask?
All visitors will be required to wear a non-medical mask throughout their visit to the theatre.

What other measures are in place for visitor safety?
All staff will be wearing face coverings. There will be a one-way system around the theatre and visitors will be asked to line-up in with physical distancing. There will be sanitization stations available throughout the theatre. All seats, headphones, washrooms and public areas will be thoroughly cleaned between each sound narrative.

What do I do if I feel ill?
Please do not visit the theatre if you feel unwell or are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. If you need to cancel your tickets, we are offering flexible ticket exchanges or a full-refund up to 24 hours prior to the showing. Please email customerservice@ticketking.com.

What amenities will be available at the theatre?
All bars and concessions will be closed, but you are welcome to bring your own reusable water bottle with you into the theatre. Washrooms will be open, and cleaned regularly throughout the day. Access to washrooms will be limited in order to enforce physical distancing.

Is the Box office open and can I buy tickets at the door?
Tickets are available to purchase online only at www.mirvish.com. If you have any queries about your booking you can email customerservice@ticketking.com.

Contact Tracing
For contact tracing purposes, you, as the ticket purchaser will be considered the primary contact for your group and will be expected to have contact info for each member of your party. Data collected for the purpose of selling a ticket and contact tracing will be kept in accordance with our privacy policy, which can be found here. (https://www.mirvish.com/privacy-policy)

What if I have access requirements?
The theatre and seating area are completely accessible. If you require a wheelchair location, please call 1-800-461-3333 to book.