As part of our ongoing mission to increase the accessibility of our work, we recently hosted a relaxed performance of The Wish Gatherer for audiences at artsdepot in North London.
Relaxed performances were developed to create a more welcoming atmosphere for people with learning or sensory communication difficulties, autism, or anyone who may benefit from a more relaxed environment when visiting the theatre.
Relaxed performances make changes to the work and performance space to reduce elements which may overwhelm an audience member or make them feel uncomfortable. The precise adjustments vary between venues and companies, but for our performance at artsdepot, we installed the following features as part of our relaxed performance:
- We removed flashing lights and sudden lighting changes
- Audience members could leave and return the auditorium as needed and were not expected to remain still or quiet during the performance
- House lights remained on
- The venue also provided a calm breakout space outside the theatre for audience members to use should they require a break from the performance
We made sure that, in collaboration with the venue, the adjustments made were prominently signposted around the venue:
Some theatres also share Social Stories® ahead of their performances, which use symbols or pictures to explain what to expect from performances in advance. These were originally developed for autistic children but are just as helpful for people that might struggle with their routine being disrupted by new and unknown events. We have created Social Stories® in partnership with education software company Widgit for our tour this spring – find out more about this partnership and how Social Stories® work here.
We strive to bring opera to the widest audience possible, and it was great to see families and children of all ages enjoying a morning of theatre together.