Royal Exchange Theatre (June 2015)
Relaxed performances are designed to welcome anyone who will benefit from a more relaxed performance environment, and are for anybody who may be anxious about attending the Theatre for a range of reasons. This could be a fear of the dark, claustrophobia, a condition which makes it difficult to be silent, a fear of loud noise, or maybe because you find it hard to sit still for a long period of time.
For this Relaxed Performance, Director Paul Hunter made small changes to the staging, and there was a relaxed attitude to noise and movement. The doors to the Theatre were left open, allowing people to come and go from the auditorium at any time and there were breakout areas in the Great Hall. A cross-organisation team of staff and volunteers received bespoke training in preparation for the performance and there were special resources available in advance for all audience members including a Visual Guide To The Theatre.
“Relaxed performances are just a brilliant idea. As a teacher I try to get my students as involved in the community as possible, no matter how complex their needs. Knowing they will be welcomed at the theatre and that they will be encouraged to express themselves makes everything so much easier and fun. It’s great to go back to parents and carers, who may also feel the same anxieties when trying out new things, and to be able to say that the young people really enjoyed themselves, that they were comfortable in the theatre and also that the theatre was comfortable with them! It’s amazing to see the students getting as excited about seeing a play as I do – and I’m so glad our students didn’t have to miss out on seeing this great show just because they might not sit perfectly quietly for a few hours…”
“I would feel uncomfortable in the theatre environment under normal conditions and I really feel unwell with loud sudden noises and strobe lights and big crowds so I have steered away from a lot of cultural and sporting events and generally busy places for most of my life because of this. So thank you for the opportunity to visit the theatre for the relaxed performance of THE GHOST TRAIN – it was a pleasurable experience.”