To me, there seems no more fitting time of the year to enjoy theatre than during the festive season. Whether you’re a regular theatregoer or not, there’s just something that feels so special about bringing your loved ones together, getting dressed up and perhaps going for a bite to eat, and then heading off to see a show.
And what’s crucial here is that theatre should be an experience that everybody gets to enjoy, including those with additional needs. We still have such a long way to go in helping regional theatres to become as inclusive as possible, but it’s incredibly heartwarming to see the progress that’s being made over time.
With that in mind, this year I’ve decided to compile a quick festive Access Guide of sorts, detailing inclusive performances for various productions in the leading theatres across Yorkshire, over the Christmas period. If you’re in the area and looking for some entertainment over the holidays, I hope the following information is helpful!
Acronyms and Performances
BSL = British Sign Language. Performances are signed by an additional member on stage.
AD = Audio Described. Action on stage is verbally transcribed and emitted to visually impaired audience members via headset or earpiece.
Captioned = Captioning converts spoken word from the performance into text, similar to TV subtitles, which is displayed electronically to the audience or audience members.
Relaxed Performance = A more informal theatre environment inclusive of those with additional needs. Special effects and technical elements may be dimmed down for those with sensory overload.
Dementia Friendly Performance = Adjustments and accommodations made for patrons with dementia, including staff training and awareness of how to support visitors. Again, technical effects may be dimmed, and adjustments to the production made to ensure the storyline or dialogue is more straightforward to follow.
It’s also worth mentioning here that the Sunflower Lanyard scheme for invisible disabilities is now being rolled-out across many regional and West End theatres: you can read my own recent thoughts on the scheme in my piece for The Stage, here. Many venues will have spare lanyards you can pick up and borrow during your visit, or you can purchase your own (for only 55p plus postage!) on the Hidden Disabilities website.
The following theatres submitted the following information for this piece…
Leeds Grand Theatre
The King And I
BSL: Saturday 2nd November, 2.30pm
AD: Saturday 9th November, 2.30pm (Touch Tour at 1pm)
We Will Rock You
BSL: Wednesday 13th November, 2.30pm
AD: Wednesday 13th November, 2.30pm (Touch Tour at 1pm)
Northern Ballet’s Cinderella
AD: Saturday 21st December, 2pm (Touch Tour at 12.30pm)
York Theatre Royal
The Storm Whale
Relaxed Performance: Thursday 19th December, 1pm
AD: Thursday 16th January, 6.30pm and Saturday 18th January, 2.30pm
BSL: Thursday 9th January, 7.30pm and Saturday 11th January, 2.30pm
Captioned: Saturday 18th January, 2.30pm and Monday 20th January, 7.30pm
Relaxed Performance: Tuesday 17th December, 2.30pm
Dementia Friendly: Wednesday 15th January, 2.30pm
Grand Opera House York
AD: Saturday 4 January, 12pm (optional Tour Tour, please contact theatre 48 hours in advance)
BSL: Monday 23 Dec at 6.30pm
Relaxed Performance: Friday 20 Dec at 6.30pm
… are well ahead of the game. Find all their access performances listed, along with booking information, on this page!
Find out more and book your access tickets for this venue here. It’s worth bearing in mind that this venue requires you to complete an application form and provide evidence of your disability before you can book access tickets.
BSL: Thursday 14 November 2019, 7.30pm
AD: Saturday 16 November 2019, 2.30pm
Captioned: Thursday 7 November 2019, 7.30pm
BSL: Thursday 5 December 2019, 7.30pm
AD: Friday 29 November 2019, 7.30pm
Captioned: Saturday 7 December 2019, 2.30pm
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
BSL: Thursday 19 December 2019, 2pm
AD: Thursday 2 January 2020, 2pm & 7.15pm
Captioned: Sunday 12 January 2020, 1pm
BSL: Saturday 21st December 2019, 5.30pm and Monday 30th December 2019, 2pm
Relaxed Performance: Friday 27th December, 5.30pm
And with that, enjoy! This is just a quick list rather than an exhaustive resource, so if you know any smaller or regional performances striving to make their work more accessible for all who should be on this list, I’d love to hear about them. Please do share their details in the comments below!