Suddenly, without warning, he has gone blind. Within hours it is clear that this is blindness like no other – it’s infectious. And within days an epidemic of blindness has spread through the city. Sounds familiar?
Blindness – the first post-lockdown show at Inverness’ Eden Court – is a gripping story of the rise and, ultimately, profoundly hopeful end of a global pandemic.
And while Eden Court’s head of live performance, Roz Bell, knows the show isn’t exactly “happy-clappy”, she thinks all local theatre-lovers will be able to relate to the sound installation, which will include extended periods of complete blackout, strobe and bright flashing lights.
She said: “We’re very excited and thrilled to be finally at this point (return of theatre).
“Blindness is a story about a pandemic and you’re right in the middle of the story.
“The show was scheduled for March, but then the second lockdown happened.
“It’s going to be our first performance in Empire Theatre since pre-pandemic, which is amazing.”
Return of traditional storytelling
“One reviewer said that the show ‘takes us back to the roots – back to people sitting and listening to a story’, which is what theatre years and years ago was.
“It’s about storytelling. And in this case, there will be 38 people sitting and listening to the story through headphones – read by Juliet Stevenson who’s an amazing actress.
“She will take you through this shocking story – but at the end, there is hope.”
Roz said she suspected there would be a lot of people who will be able to relate to Blindness due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns.
Audience members will be socially distanced on stage
Created by award-winning playwright Simon Stephens, who adapted Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s dystopian novel Blindness, Eden Court’s production is an immersive sound installation.
Running four times a day from July 5-10, rather than enjoying the production from their seats, audience members will be seated on the stage, with seating arranged two metres apart in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
Roz said: “When we were first talking to Donmar Warehouse (London theatre behind Blindness), what interested us in the show was that it was conceived in such a way that it was suitable for socially distanced audiences.
“Coming back out of lockdown, we knew there would be some restrictions, so having something like this eases us back in.”
While Roz and her team cannot predict how Inverness audiences will react to the show, she hopes they are looking forward to going back to the theatre.
“I think they are desperate to see something,” said Roz.
Making sure everyone is welcome and feels safe and secure
“We’ve been working on this for quite a while. Everything is done in such a way that you’ll come in one entrance and go home through another door.
“We follow all of the restrictions and guidelines, there will be hand sanitiser everywhere.
“Audio-description and captioning options will be available at every performance – which is really important to us. We just want to be able to welcome everybody back.”
In other news, Eden Court has reopened its cinemas and cafe bar today (Wednesday, May 26).
Preparations are also underway for Under Canvas, Eden Court’s flagship summer festival. Presenting three months of live music, performances and DJ sets by the banks of the River Ness, the outdoor summer festival will return on July 1 and conclude on September 30. More info below: