· Why did you decide to offer relaxed performances for Christmas this year?
We have been offering Relaxed Performances at the Theatre Royal on our pantomime now since 2013, when our first performance was Peter Pan with David Hasselhoff. We have been lucky enough to carry them on and the audiences have been really positive and got bigger every year… Long may they continue!
· What can people expect from the relaxed performances?
We have three Relaxed Performances this year; Peter and the Wolf and The Snowman plus two pantomime performances of Jack and the Beanstalk. Peter and the Wolf and The Snowman is our first Relaxed Orchestra performance and it sounds fantastic – we are very excited about it. People can expect excitement and a lovely supportive environment in which to enjoy these performances.
· What factors did you need to take into consideration when putting on these performances, how were the preparations different?
There is a lot of preparation work involved with the Relaxed Performances. As Peter and the Wolf and The Snowman is a first for us creating the Visual Story has been an interesting process and working with a signer who will be interpreting the instruments of the orchestra. The pantomime is always a challenge as every year we see a great deal more special effects; we’ve had to pay particular notice this year to making people aware of the 3D elements to the show. We also work closely with the visiting technical team and our backstage crew in ensuring any unsuitable effects are removed or toned down. Our staff also undergo regular training every year in order to be fully supportive of the audiences we have attending.
· Have you seen many ticket sales for these performances, do you sense a need for these in Nottingham?
We always aim for our Relaxed Performances not to sell out as we want to ensure those coming that they are free to move around if they need too. Audience numbers so far are very good and will definitely increase as Christmas rapidly approaches! There is a definite need for these performances in Nottingham and we are constantly looking at ways to expand our offer.
· What advice would you offer to other cultural institutions thinking of hosting autism-friendly events?
Do it! There is nothing more wonderful than seeing the enjoyment (and relaxation) on people’s faces when they attend. The first year we ran a Relaxed Performance half of the staff were in tears – it was a truly moving experience.
For more information or to book tickets for one of these performances, please call Caroline Pope on 0115 989 5627 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.