London West End show goes multilingual

27th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Musical hit "Hairspray" at the Shaftesbury Theatre is the first to use a new device, which translates dialogue and lyrics on stage into eight languages and relays them via a wireless network to personal handsets.

London -- Foreign tourists watching a show in London's West End will be able to follow the performance in their own language thanks to a new hand-held subtitles device launched on Thursday.

Musical hit "Hairspray" at the Shaftesbury Theatre is the first to use the new device, which translates dialogue and lyrics on stage into eight languages and relays them via a wireless network to personal handsets.

Around one-third of the tickets sold for London's theatre shows are bought by visitors from outside Britain, according to The Society of London Theatre.

The speed of the subtitles is controlled by the stage prompt so it remains synchronised with the show, according to Cambridge Consultants, who came up with the AirScript device.

"A lot of work has gone into getting this simple, yet effective concept working effectively in an incredibly short timeframe and we're delighted with the response we're seeing from our audiences," said James Williams of the Shaftesbury Theatre.

Currently, subtitles are provided at many West End shows on a screen to the side of the stage, but this only offers one language and can be hard to see.

The new system, which initially offers subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Chinese, can also be used for people with hearing difficulties.

To avoid irritating audience members not using the screens, they have been designed with a black screen background rather than a white one to avoid light spillage, and the devices are also completely silent.

AFP/Expatica

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