Friday, 14 December 2012

Relaxing with the Snowman...

Although I can't claim any great love for The Snowman - it really doesn't give me a thrill to see dance at the mercy of a trite, cheerful story, when it could be Swan Lake - I am impressed by the Edinburgh Festival Theatre's  "first relaxed performance in Scotland." Relaxed performances aren't an attempt to bring back the cabaret atmosphere of Brecht's cigar smoking observer, but an opportunity for children with complex additional and behavioural needs to enjoy a show.

It's not just about the auditorium: the actual staging of The Snowman was adapted, with special effects and lighting toned down. Seating was removed to allow more wheelchair access, the house lights were kept on and the audience was allowed to go for a stroll whenever they felt like it.

Increased accessibility to theatre is a vital issue: now that community participation is being recognised as crucial, supporting this through making the theatre an easy venue to access is a logical first step. The NTS are getting in on the action:  the first autism-friendly performance in Scotland of A Christmas Carol is happening this Sunday 16 December, at The Old Kirk in Kirkcaldy.

Over to the press release...

Cerin Richardson, Learning & Participation Manager at the Festival Theatre said: “What we hoped to achieve was offering a truly accessible experience of theatre to children who never normally have that opportunity. To provide them with a relaxed environment in which to enjoy what most theatre goers take for granted and enable the children to respond exactly as they wished in a supportive setting. We hope this will be the first of many such performances”.

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