We have struggled in the past to visit the theatre as a family. There are lots of sensory triggers, foyers busy with crowds, dark auditoriums, not knowing what will happen next and loud noise. I few years back I visited the National Theatre for a relaxed performance of ‘I want my hat back‘. On this occasion I visited on my own, in particular I remember the performers beginning outside the theatre space, walking through the foyer and cafe area playing instruments demystifying the performance. I wish I had taken my children that day as I am sure they would have loved it.
This half term the National Theatre are putting on ‘A Winter’s Tale’ for younger audiences. At a manageable 1 hour it promises to be a great introduction to Shakespeare for littles ones. I am delighted as part of the programme they are running a relaxed performance and workshop for visitors with autism or learning disabilities.
They make a number of small adjustments to the staging to support visitors who may find visiting difficult including –
- the lights in the audience will be up so that it’s not too dark
- you can make noise during the show
- you can come and go as you please
- if you need a break there are chill out areas in the foyer
- We make small changes to the lights and sound (such as taking out strobes lights) so that the performance is more accessible if you have sensory sensitivities.
This half term we will be giving the relaxed performance on Wednesday 20th Feb a go. I am really excited and a little nervous to see how we get on.
Do keep an eye our for future relaxed performances, I have found by visiting the relaxed performances at the Globe that my daughter has built up her confidence about going to the theatre.
It is great to see the National Theatre thinking about access for audiences as the power of theatre can be so transformational.
For more details please see the National Theatre website –
‘A Winter’s Tale’ https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/the-winters-tale
Relaxed performances at the National Theatre – https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/your-visit/access/relaxed-performances