Radio Play Society
Over the last two years, our vision-impaired ex-Service men and women have come together at our Brighton centre to form a Radio Play Society. Regular performers and guests alike meet weekly to recite all kinds of plays.
Being vision-impaired our beneficiaries can’t easily read their scripts. They instead have to have them recited by staff and volunteers, remember them and develop their characters from what they hear. Our Brighton centre Operations Manager and Radio Play Society founding member Chris Kirk says:
“My favourite part of the society has to be the veterans, but second to that it is the creative collaboration. Just because the veterans in the group are vision-impaired, does not mean we don’t have the creative arguments that a normal group of actors, directors and writers wouldn’t have.”
"Hearing the veterans laugh as we do things and hearing them try hard to get the best performances and push themselves is extremely rewarding in ways I can’t even begin to explain."
Chris Kirk, founding member
This society is a reprisal of the drama activities which kept our blind veterans in good spirits during World War Two, when the charity had temporarily moved from Brighton to Church Stretton for safety.
Back then, the success of the dramatic society was helped along considerably by actor Edmond Knight. Rather than performing onstage, in 2015 the society took advantage of new recording technology to produce radio plays.
Their first project was to rehearse and record a thriller by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, 'The Intruder'. Written in 1894, it details the journey of a blind grandfather whose daughter lies terribly ill after childbirth. The grandfather's family are all around him and the tale revolves around him being able to sense more than his sighted family.
Several blind veterans have taken on roles in the production including 80 year old blind veteran John Taylor who was cast as The Grandfather. John was more than pleased to return to acting after sight loss robbed him from acting in community theatre productions he’d loved being part of for decades.
"I was so pleased to be asked to get involved and to help with re-forming the Society."
John Taylor, 80, former Senior Aircraftman
Regularly, our blind veterans’ outlooks change greatly upon getting involved in the society. Two examples are Pat Keeble and Howard Cutter. Though they were content with the care we provided, they were both incredibly introverted and couldn’t find an activity that suited them. At times it seemed hopeless. Asked to give it a try, each found the courage and now relish the chance to get together and have a laugh.
In addition to plays the Radio Play Society now record talking books for other blind veterans to enjoy and help the rehabilitation staff with other recordings where they can. Hear from all our thespian blind veterans all about what it means to be involved:
Since 2015 our blind veterans have become quite talented. Recently the club finished The Mystery of Sunken Ships, a standalone play part of the Dangerous Assignments series. It’s an extraordinary drama of spies and intrigue, mystery and murder. Will our hero stop the villains? Will he live to tell the tale? Listen in to our blind veterans’ rendition and find out:
The Radio Play Society has brought back so much laughter and fun to the lives of several our blind veterans who were very low and had lost a lot of confidence. It’s so great for our beneficiaries to find a purpose and regain social connection with fellow acting enthusiasts. Should anyone be interested in getting involved, please email Chris Kirk.