Sometimes referred to as sensory-friendly experiences, this initiative gives the opportunity for those with various sensitivities towards sensory stimuli to experience and enjoy live theatre. The Centre also recently conducted an accessibility audit, with input from Autism P.E.I. and some of its members.
These performances, offered are: Dear Rita on Wednesday, July 14 and Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story on Thursday, August 26. Each performance will be designed in a way to be more comfortable for audience members who may experience anxiety or are not comfortable with some aspects of a traditional theatre setting. This can include people on the Autism Spectrum and their families; those with sensory and communicative disorders or learning disabilities; people with Tourette’s syndrome; someone who might need to move often due to chronic pain or to use the facilities; or even parents with toddlers.
As for what to expect to see at these two relaxed performances:
- There will be a special pre-show introduction and welcome;
- The overhead houselights will be dimmed, but remain on throughout;
- The overall volume of the performance will be lowered;
- Strobe lighting will be removed, as will the firing pistol used at the start of the famous Anne™ egg-and-spoon-race, and;
- There will also be a ‘visual story’ resource that aids patrons in way-finding around the Centre and introduces characters from the show ahead of time, as well as a pre-show explanation from a member of the creative team.
In terms of the ‘etiquette loosening’:
- Patrons will be able to move about the theatre more than usual, as well as leave the theatre at any time should they require a break (and re-enter if they feel ready to do so);
- A special ‘calm zone’ will be set up as an option for patrons to head to relax in mid-performance, away from the busy lobby or theatre;
- Noises and talking will also be allowed in the house – patrons should not expect a silent audience experience, and;
- The use of support technology (tablets and phones) will be relaxed as well.
- In 2019, Confederation Centre of the Arts hosted a three-day training course in Relaxed Performance, alongside fellow representatives from Autism P.E.I., P.E.I. Council of Persons with Disabilities, Neptune Theatre, the Victoria Playhouse, and more. This training session was led by the British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, who has led these sessions for art centres everywhere. The British Council organized the training in cooperation with Toronto’s Tangled Arts+Disability with generous support from the Canada Council of the Arts.