Where would MindsEye be without our dedicated volunteers? Nowhere. That’s where. That’s especially true of our Audio Description volunteers. As we continue to shine a spotlight on the volunteers who have really stepped up and helped us with our mission, we would like to highlight this year’s Audio Description Volunteer of the Year award winner Valerie Goldston!
Having taught and worked in theatre for decades, Valerie’s skillset makes her uniquely qualified and adept at doing audio description for live events.
Laura Foughty sat down with Valerie at MindsEye’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Day to learn more.
LAURA: Could you tell me all of the different ways you volunteer for MindsEye?
VALERIE: Well, I started as an ambassador and then I took the training to become an audio describer. Then I was helping my husband who reads the comics which I think is funny right there. I was suddenly helping him write the scripts because we transcribe what happens in the comics first and then I was like, “Well, I guess I could try recording,” and when they offered me National Geographic and Reader’s Digest I thought, “That’s me! That is my show!” so I also record an hour a week and I’ve been volunteering at different events and taking pictures. I’m sure I’ll discover other ways I can help out.
LAURA: Tell us about your career in theatre.
VALERIE: I worked at SIU Edwardsville Southern Illinois University for 33 years as a theatre manager. I also taught lighting and stage management. I thought my theatre background was really helpful and it was nice to get back into the theatre and get to see shows and kind of come in for a minute or two a couple of days and then get to go home.
LAURA: When you are describing a show, do you ever feel more tempted to describe the lighting since that’s your background?
VALERIE: Oh, no. I enjoy what I’m seeing.
LAURA: I thought it might be like, “The stage is awash in a rosy glow…”
VALERIE: Mostly I’m just so excited to see the different organizations that perform.
LAURA: What is your favorite part about doing audio description?
VALERIE: It’s a cop out, but I kind of like it all. I like the research and writing up a little script, but then actually just seeing live theater and that excitement of being there and like, “Okay, I gotta say this before they get to that song. Oh, I know of made it, but let’s just move on.”
LAURA: Do you feel like your stage management experience and timing plays into all of that?
VALERIE: Yes, but it’s also a one-shot deal. You either did it or, well, they’ll still figure it out and I get to do the next one.
LAURA: Yeah. You gotta move on. There’s kind of no time to dwell on it, right? It’s a lot like live theatre where if you make a mistake and your brain is still thinking about it you’re going to miss the next thing.
VALERIE: I did that a couple of times.
LAURA: Okay, we ask everybody this. What’s your favorite pizza topping?
VALERIE: Pineapple. I’m sticking with that.
LAURA: You’re not the first. Thank you so much.
A big, well-deserved congratulations to Valerie from all of us at MindsEye! Drop your own congrats in the comments below!