BLOG: Is Theatre really accessible to everyone? How would you feel if it affected you?

Is theatre really accessible to everyone?

Take a moment to consider how you would fare in a person with disabilities shoes. Someone who loves theatre and goes to see all the new west end shows until suddenly and unexpectedly, a condition strikes you down and you can only attend certain performances of certain shows for the rest of your life. Those performances with a ‘relaxed’ title.

How would you feel if it happened to you?

Relaxed performances are something the majority of us probably don’t even think about as most of us are blessed with relatively normal lives. But what about those people with disabilities or conditions that make it hard for them to be around other people, or where they may not be accepted during a regular theatre performance. Whilst most of us may not give this much though, it is worth considering how you would feel if it happened to you.

Things like Tourette’s could affect any of us at any time and that is a scary thought. What if I one day woke up with an issue like this? I wouldn’t be able to go to the theatre with a condition like that which relies on quietness and controlled sense of self. But many of us are ignorant to the fact it could happen to us at any time. The recent TV programme ‘Employable Me’ showed people with autism, Tourette’s and other disabilities who were searching for work but unable to find places that could accept them for their differences. One man with Tourette’s, in his late forties, had led a perfectly normal life until six years ago when he suddenly woke up one day with Tourette’s (a condition that makes you unable to control the words that come out of your mouth). And that really got me thinking about what I would do if it happened to me.

The only way I could continue to go to the theatre would be by attending relaxed performances which are put in place for those with disabilities who may require the lights to stay on, loud noises and effects to be lessened and a general environment where people around don’t judge you for talking or moving around. Sadly, whilst it is great that there are so many of these happening, there just aren’t enough of them around.

According to the Official London Theatre website, these are all of the planned ‘Relaxed Performances’ coming up between now and the end of 2016. Take a look and have a think about whether there are enough shows coming up to satisfy your theatre appetite.

30 Mar – 1001 Nights – Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
21 April –
24 Apr The Polar Bears Go Up – Unicorn Theatre
28 Apr The Polar Bears Go Up – Unicorn Theatre
11 May BOY – Almeida Theatre
10 Jun Septimus Bean And His Amazing Machine – Unicorn Theatre
12 June – Matilda
22 Jun The Railway Children – King’s Cross Theatre
26 Jun A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
10 Dec – Sleeping Beauty (Hackney Empire)

It’s brilliant that we are seeing more and more special performances being created for people with disabilities but why cant they be done for 100% of the shows that are produced so that everyone has an equal chance to see any show that takes their fancy and not just the few that are chosen for them. I certainly wouldn’t be content in only having these shows available to me to see. How would you feel?