PlayMakers Repertory Company is trying out a new audience service to enhance play-going enjoyment with open captioning at selected performances.

Open captioning lets the audience read along with the play. A screen is visible to the audience, which displays the text of the play as the actors are speaking it. A professional open captioning operator is in the audience, watching the show and scrolling through the text, keeping up with the action on stage.

Hannah Grannemann, managing director of PlayMakers, describes open captioning as being “like closed captioning on your TV – but in the theater.” She says “many people with hearing loss or who just want to make sure they don’t miss a word find open captioning helpful. Audiences on Broadway and at performing arts organizations such as New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and Blumenthal Center in Charlotte enjoy the benefits of this service. We’re trying it out at PlayMakers at no additional cost to our patrons this season to see if it’s a service our audience members will also enjoy.”

PlayMakers’ first open captioned performances are taking place during the theater’s current production of “The Making of a King: Henry IV & Henry V” by William Shakespeare. The first tryout at the 2 p.m. matinee of “Henry IV” on Feb. 11 was received well by attendees. The next open captioned performance is “Henry V” on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. There will also be an open captioned performance during the theater company’s Mainstage season finale, British comedy “Noises Off” on Saturday, April 14 at 2 p.m.

For information and to place an order to attend an open captioned performance, visit the PlayMakers’ box office in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road or call 919.962.PLAY (7529). Tickets to Saturday matinee performances are $30. To learn more about open captioning at PlayMakers, visit http://playmakersrep.org/outreach/allaccess/opencaption, where a link to a website to watch the service in action at other theaters is included.

Funding for open captioning at PlayMakers has been provided by The Strowd Roses Foundation, a Chapel Hill based foundation.

PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

PlayMakers contact: Connie Mahan, (919) 428-1744, cmahan@email.unc.edu