Find theatre-going stressful? Then check out ‘relaxed’ performances at Chichester Festival Theatre…


Theatre-goers who might find attending a production a stressful experience are being urged to consider upcoming “relaxed” performances.

If you or a family member is on the autism spectrum, has a learning disability or a sensory and communication disorder – or even has particularly lively young children – it’s worth checking out the accessible performances on offer this winter at Chichester Festival Theatre, with their welcoming, less formal environment.

At these performances, nobody minds if audience members make a noise, talk a bit or move around. At designated relaxed performances, lighting and sound levels will be adjusted for comfort; you can leave and return to your seats during a performance; and a chill-out area is provided in the foyer, in case you need a break.

THE ENORMOUS ROOM has a relaxed performance on Saturday 15 December at 2.45pm in the Minerva Theatre. Stopgap Dance Company create exhilarating dance productions featuring a company of disabled and non-disabled artists who find innovative ways to collaborate. Their latest piece is about a father and daughter gradually come to terms with the loss of their wife and mother, in a thoughtful, moving and uplifting show about saying goodbye and moving on.

SLEEPING BEAUTY is this year’s Christmas production from Chichester Festival Youth Theatre, and there’s a relaxed performance on Sunday 30 December at 2pm. It’s an entertaining and mischievous version of the original fairy tale about a princess who sleeps for a hundred years, waiting to be woken by a prince’s kiss. Troublesome fairies and hilarious ogres all feature in a spectacular production that’s certain to keep you wide awake!

HE AIN’T HEAVY is a poignant and moving portrayal of sibling love as performer Grania Pickford tells the story of growing up with her disabled autistic brother using physical theatre, aerial circus and puppetry. This is an accessible production, with a relaxed attitude to audience noise and movement, on Wednesday 9 January at 2.45pm and 7.45pm.

Flute Theatre’s production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, running in the Minerva Theatre from 16 – 26 January, is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s story specifically for young people with autism and their families. Up to 15 young people on the autism spectrum become the participants for each performance, sitting with seven actors in a circle on the stage, with their families or carers sitting just behind them.

The actors encourage the participants to play sensory games and together they unravel the story. Afterwards everyone is invited for tea and biscuits with the cast.

For further details on all these performances, ring the Box Office on 01243 781312.

About the Author

Carl Eldridge
Carl Eldridge is a hugely experienced journalist who has worked on local and national newspapers, magazines and written for websites over the past 30 years. He lives in Bognor Regis with his wife and son. And he is a life-long Arsenal fan.