I first met Erin Siobhan Hutching through my work with Scope, and obviously jumped at the opportunity to have a natter about inclusive theatre with her: the following post has been published with the permission of the Scope Stories team and The DH Ensemble. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

On stage photo of two women stood up with one hand raised in the air: one woman looks confident and the other more uncertain

Going to the theatre is an experience enjoyed and cherished by many families, particularly over Christmas and the New Year. However, like many other recreational activities, theatres and shows often fail to be wholly inclusive of disabled people. Although the accessibility of venues has now begun to increase, the content and suitability of individual productions for those with specific impairments continue to exclude multitudes of disabled people from enjoying these shows for themselves. View Post

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display of theatre programmes and tickets

Back when I spontaneously decided that 2017 would be a Year Of The Theatre, I was completely unaware of just how much of a game-changer this decision would turn out to be. If it hadn’t been for a horrible night of insomnia that had me creating a blog just for something to distract myself with, there isn’t a single aspect of my life right now that would be the same. From my first review that’s so hideously bad that I can’t even bring myself to link it, to my most recent review of the Hairspray UK Tour, I’ve loved every single moment of becoming a theatre blogger.

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a hand holding up a blue Hairspray programme in front of red theatre curtains

Expectations: 5/5
Reality: 5/5
Chronic Illness Friendly: 4.9/5

Chronic Illness Friendly Review

Location

Bradford Alhambra Theatre is one of my happy places. I’ve been multiple times in the last few years, and given the city it lives in, you perhaps wouldn’t expect it to be such a gorgeous, gorgeous venue. If you have wobbly legs like me, you should perhaps take into consideration the location of the theatre itself; you’ll find it in the city centre at the bottom of a relatively steep hill with limited car access, meaning it isn’t the easiest place to access by foot, particularly if you have mobility issues.

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Expectations: 5/5
Reality: 5/5
Chronic Illness Friendly: 3/5

Chronic Illness Friendly Review

Location:

The Cambridge Theatre is a beautiful venue, and I found it to be particularly wheelchair accessible. As the Box Office and Foyer Entrance are both step-free, you can pick up your tickets without hassle, and the Front Of House staff were both chatty and attentive as they personally took us around to the wheelchair entrance at the side of the theatre. From here, you can access the bar, a small confectionary kiosk, a programme stand and an accessible toilet without encountering steps.

For those who struggle with noise/sensory overload, do bear in mind that the wheelchair entrance and following waiting area were quite narrow and became quite dense with crowds as people began to arrive before the doors opened and people could take their seats. However, there is a small section of corridor between the wheelchair entrance and this foyer that (inadvertently) served as a quieter area: you may be more comfortable waiting there.

If you have mobility issues but don’t use a wheelchair, be aware that there are steps leading up from the entrance of the theatre to the main foyer. However, by using the wheelchair entrance, you can access the stalls step-free and with minimal walking distance. The distance between the stalls entrance and the accessible toilet is also within about a hundred metres, which is pretty ideal. If you usually go for aisle seats to stretch your legs during the performance, the aisles are used frequently by the cast so… yeah, don’t stick your legs out during this one. Don’t risk breaking a stagey child’s leg and ruining their career before they hit puberty. View Post

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Expectations: 4.5/5
Reality: 4.5/5
Chronic Illness Friendly: 3.5/5…

Venue (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

Level access to the theatre via an alternative entrance; a member of staff at the main doors will assist you through this entrance, where you will find a waiting hall reserved for those with additional needs. I found this worked well as a quieter area away from the main foyer, but do note that there are about 10 steps to access the foyer (including the bar). Those in this area were let into the theatre first, which was fab: not only did we avoid the sometimes-overwhelming audience surge from the main doors, I got to be the first one to take my seat. Empty theatres = my absolute fave. More info about the theatre’s accessibility here.

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