facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

Many theatre makers have not been able to work since last March - your support could be a lifeline for those in need now.


What is a relaxed performance?

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood First Published 12 February 2020, Last Updated 23 April 2020

All around the country, theatres put on accessible performances for different people with different needs. The ones that might spring first to mind are captioned and signed performances for those who are hard of hearing, or audio described performances for those with visual impairments. But have you heard of relaxed performances?

A relaxed performance is a show that’s been adapted to suit people who might require a more relaxed environment when going to the theatre. Usually, these are adults or children with learning difficulties, autism or sensory communication disorders.

People with conditions like these can find standard theatre performances overwhelming or unpleasant. Common triggers are darkness, loud music, sudden noises and a generally unfamiliar environment in which you’re expected to sit still and quiet for a long time.

To make theatre more accessible to people who might struggle with these aspects, shows will put on a relaxed performance. These do vary slightly from theatre to theatre, but share common themes.

Some technical changes may have been made to the performance – this can include quieter music, reducing loud or surprising sound effects and avoiding strobe lighting.

The atmosphere is exactly that – relaxed! The lights aren’t turned off and sometimes aren’t even dimmed. Theatres will often provide a ‘chill-out’ area for people to visit if the experience becomes overwhelming. Generally, people are allowed to enter and leave the auditorium freely, and there is an open attitude towards audience noise and movement.

Some theatres will also provide a social story of the theatregoing experience. Social stories are short and simple descriptions of an experience that explain what to expect in a situation and why, often with photos. These can reduce the stress of theatregoing and help people understand what is going to happen next.

Mousetrap Theatre Projects is a charity that strives to open the doors to London theatre for those who might not otherwise have the access or opportunity. As part of this they currently facilitate one or two relaxed performances a year, depending on funding available, to top West End shows.

They buy out the house and re-price the tickets to just £3 to £20, making it as affordable as possible, and work with venues and producers to make the necessary adjustments. The most recent of these was a relaxed performance of School Of Rock last month.

We sent Sarah to see the show with her family, and she’s written a short piece for us about her experience:

My husband and I have a large family with 6 children between us; my eldest son Joshua is 23 and has Autism and learning difficulties and loves going out, however finding things to do that are suitable for us as a family can prove tricky!

Joshua loves music and shows but can sometimes find things a bit overwhelming, especially loud noises, crowds or things he perceives as scary (often they are not scary at all), and this can cause distress to him and those around him. In the past this has made going to see theatre shows difficult.

Earlier this week we were lucky enough to have tickets to The School of Rock relaxed performance through Mousetrap Theatre Projects, the chance to enjoy a West End theatre show in a more relaxed environment.

When we arrived, staff were waiting to greet us and couldn’t have been friendlier to everyone. Before the show began members of the cast came on stage to introduce themselves and their characters, so no surprises later, and they encouraged the audience to interact and join in.

During the performance adjustments are made to the sound and lighting, but for our family the real bonus was that all the usual theatre going rules were out the window.

It didn’t matter when Joshua desperately need to tell me, quite loudly, about what great value the program was, when he had to put his fingers in his ears and start humming to himself to block out noises or when he put his hood up and hid himself in the corner of his seat.

The whole theatre was full of families who otherwise may not have been able to attend a theatre and the children and young people were able to enjoy this amazing show in a totally non-judgemental environment!

You can find out more about Mousetrap Theatre Projects here, and find out more about their relaxed performances here.


Sign up

access london theatre gillian lynne theatre relaxed performance school of rock

Related articles

Due to the current pandemic various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows. Please bear with us as we try to keep this page as up to date as possible. If you find a mistake, please let us know by emailing enquiries@soltukt.co.uk. If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

For more than 40 years, TKTS was our on-the-day theatre ticket box office in Leicester Square. Currently closed due to the current situation, we are now selling our great last minute seats and prices online. Click here to learn more.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.