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First relaxed performance held at York Theatre Royal

First relaxed performance held at York Theatre Royal

Photo credit: Hufton + Crow Photography

York Theatre Royal’s 2.30pm performance of Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles on Friday 19 August will be its first ever relaxed performance, upholding the theatre’s objective to make its performances accessible to every member of the public.

In relaxed performances, minor adaptations are made to the show and to the theatre’s welcome areas to make the playgoing experience easier for people with autism, sensory and communication disorders, learning disabilities, people living with dementia and anyone else who would benefit from a more relaxed performance environment.

Tweaks made to the production include house lights being left slightly raised during the performance, loud noises such as gunshots and whistles becoming quieter or being replaced with a spoken equivalent by an actor, and a reduced level of physical interaction between actors and audience members.

‘The opposite of a train’s quiet carriage’ is the description often used to describe the atmosphere of a relaxed performance. A team of trained ushers will expect and be accommodating towards a slightly higher amount of noise and movement from the audience.

There will be a private and peaceful break-out space next to the auditorium in case any members of the audience find the experience temporarily uncomfortable.

One of the most important features of a relaxed performance is that the quality of the show itself is not compromised, artistically or technically: the idea is to present the same show to people that might not traditionally feel at home in a quiet theatre audience.

The theatre has programmed relaxed performances throughout its upcoming season after thorough consultation with people who would benefit from the service as well as other arts venues which have successfully introduced these types of performance. Upcoming productions which feature a relaxed performance include Underneath a Magical Moon (Wednesday 19 October, 11am), The Mischief Before Christmas (Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7, Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 December, all 10am) and Murder, Margaret and Me (Thursday 2 March 2017, 2pm).

The decision to hold relaxed performances is in line with York Theatre Royal’s long-running practice of widening access to the theatre by providing audio-described, captioned and British Sign Language-interpreted performances of its shows.