Behind the scenes of Unseen, a gripping new audio drama – Vision Foundation
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Behind the scenes of Unseen, a gripping new audio drama

In 2022 we worked alongside SafeLives to publish The Unseen, a report exploring abuse experienced by members of the visually impaired community. You can find the report here.

In the wake of its publication, Extant Theatre reached out to inquire about building a theatrical piece around The Unseen. In their final week of the devising phase, Extant were kind enough to invite us to check in on the project.

Adapting research into an art piece

Adapting such sensitive material is a huge undertaking, but Extant had the perfect team for the job. Buried deep inside a theatre in East London, in a room illuminated solely by lamplight, we found the writing team hard at work. Comprised of seven individuals, all members of the visually impaired community, the group was well-positioned to bring a variety of expertise and experience to the writing process.

The very first thing they impressed upon us on our arrival was how important it is to ensure the play accurately portrays the experiences of visually impaired people who have experienced abuse. There was a balance to find between representing the difficulties faced by people in abusive situations, including the unique issues those with visual impairment face, and ensuring victims are not portrayed as helpless. This play, like the report, will not only draw awareness to what domestic abuse situations can look like for visually impaired individuals, but will portray potential steps for leaving those situations.

The Extant writers met with some of the contributors to The Unseen report and other visually impaired survivors of abuse for workshops whilst devising the show’s plot. It is the content of these workshops that drives the main stories of the play. One such workshop prompted the team to change tracks from portraying two cases of partner abuse to one of partner abuse and one of familial abuse.

Additionally, once the script has been completed it will receive a final fact check from Rising Sun, a charity that supports people who experience domestic abuse.

Inside the writers’ room

You may have heard the phrase ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ applied to media where too many voices in the writers’ room cloud the intended message. That could not have been further from the truth with The Unseen. This team works together seamlessly.

On the day of our visit, the writers were in the midst of their final devising session. Devising sessions, led by the director, are opportunities to create scenes and dialogue as a collective, rather than sending individuals away to write solo.

The writers split into three groups and each work on a scene that needs further development. We wouldn’t want to get ahead of ourselves and spoil the actual contents of the show, but there was some fleshing out of scenes, some hilarious improvisation about assistive technology, and a group effort to bring a character arc to a satisfying conclusion. Even just these snippets were filled with depth, emotion, and artistry, so you have a lot to look forward to.

Three people sit behind a recording desk, they are surrounded by computer screens and sound equipmentWhat’s next?

With the script being completed over the holiday break, the show is now in the midst of rehearsals. Streaming of the audio drama is available from Monday 4 March 2024 at