To listen to an audio version of this of this story, click below.
A relaxed performance is a show that’s been adapted to suit people with different needs, usually adults or children with learning difficulties, autism or sensory communication disorders.
The show was The Nutcracker, a ballet originally performed over 130 years ago.
Ellie, in her early thirties, has profound and multiple learning disabilities plus severe and unpredictable epileptic seizures. She loves going to musical shows, but we have always found it stressful when we take her to ‘normal’ (unrelaxed) performances. She delights in joining in with her cries of “Here we go!”, “Hello Jake”, her favourite Tweeny, and “Mummy”.
This Royal Opera House event was so different. Everyone in the production was aware that the usual still and quiet audience would not be there. The theatre lights were not fully turned off, so people in the audience could move around or visit ‘chill out’ areas if they needed some peace and quiet.
Before the show began, the dancers introduced themselves, explained the Nutcracker story and told the audience not to be frightened of the evil Mouse King character or the fight scenes.
The theatre produced an easy read guide to the performance, describing all aspects of the show and the ‘relaxed’ elements of the theatre.
Ellie loved the show, shouting out whenever she felt like it; with nobody turning round to complain. The theatre staff were all very patient and helpful.
It was a full-length classical ballet, not just the highlights for an inattentive audience. So, congratulations to the Royal Opera House for this magnificent production and giving Ellie such a great afternoon.
Finally, I have to say that it is a shame that relaxed theatre and cinema performances are still so rare. Why do people with certain special needs have to miss out on such wonderful uplifting experiences? It’s just not fair.
To find out about this particular relaxed performance at the Royal Opera House read here
To find out about the Nutcracker story, read here
To find out what a Nutcracker doll is, read here. It is a toy soldier. Until around 1950 these toys could also be used to crack nuts.
To view a version of this story written by the Camden New Journal see below.