Relaxed theatre is a winter chill

11th January 2013 at 00:00
Special performance of the The Snowman was a cool show for children with complex needs, says Emma Seith

Last month the first relaxed theatre performance in Scotland for children with complex additional support and behavioural needs was held in an Edinburgh theatre.

Thanks to the success of the special showing of its festive production, The Snowman, the Edinburgh Festival Theatre hopes to run more events of this type.

Children, teachers and carers from six special schools in Edinburgh were invited to the performance, with 450 guests in total. Schools attending included Braidburn, Prospect Bank, Oaklands, Redhall, Pilrig Park and St Crispin's.

It was the first trip to a theatre for many children, and venue staff worked closely with teachers to make sure it was as relaxed as possible. Measures were taken to reduce the sensory intensity of the show, with lighting and sound levels adjusted and special effects modified.

In the auditorium, seats were removed to accommodate 50 wheelchairs, house lights remained up, additional ramps were installed, and provision was made for personal care and the administration of medication. As this was a private performance, children were able to move around and make noise as they wished.

Tickets were free, as was transport to and from the theatre, thanks to funding from investment management firm Walter Scott amp; Partners.

Later in December, the National Theatre of Scotland held the first autism-friendly performance in Scotland - A Christmas Carol at The Old Kirk in Kirkcaldy.

Cerin Richardson, learning and participation manager at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, said: "What we hoped to achieve was offering a truly accessible experience of theatre to children who never normally have that opportunity. We hope this will be the first of many such performances".

Irene Scullion, a teacher at Oaklands School, said: "I can honestly say that the pupils had an amazing time."

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