UK’s giant pantomime creates second special relaxed performance

Picture by Simon Hadley

Picture by Simon Hadley

Following huge success last year, Birmingham Hippodrome and Qdos Pantomimes will present a second Relaxed Performance of the UK’s biggest pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk at 1pm on Thursday 29 January.

Specially created to welcome anyone with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, learning disability, or sensory and communication disorder, the Relaxed Performance gives those who might otherwise feel excluded the chance to experience live theatre, often for the very first time.  Birmingham Hippodrome has teamed up with Autism West Midlands and special needs units across the city to ensure as many people benefit as possible.

A relaxed atmosphere at the performance helps reduce anxiety levels, with some of the loud and bright elements reduced, and strobe lighting and pyrotechnics removed.  Audio description and Makaton signing will be available, and the audience will be able to come and go as they please throughout the show, with access to special sensory rooms and relaxing break-out areas.

“Thank you for thinking so much about being an all-inclusive venue – it really matters.” The Brier School

Picture by Simon Hadley

Picture by Simon Hadley

Birmingham Hippodrome’s Creative Learning Manager Liz Leck said “We are committed to providing access for all at Birmingham Hippodrome, and we’re particularly thrilled to be able to present our second Relaxed Performance of pantomime later this month.   We are working closely with Autism West Midlands and Richard Hayhow, Director of Open Theatre, who will once again be running tailored training for our front-of-house staff to ensure all our patrons have an enjoyable and memorable experience.

“For the last seven years we have been working with hundreds of people with learning difficulties across the city.  Presenting a relaxed performance helps to enhance their experience of live theatre, and makes a real difference in their lives.”

“We all enjoyed seeing the pantomime, especially my 7 year old son who has autism and severe learning difficulties.” Patron

Birmingham Hippodrome Corporate Development ManagerJudith Greenburgh added “The Relaxed Performance was the focus of our Big Give Christmas Challenge for the second year running. Once again, thanks to tremendous support from local businesses, grant-making Trusts, and individual supporters, we achieved our target, raising nearly £14,000 to help make this happen.

“As a charity ourselves, we’ve then used these much-needed funds to ensure that the additional sensory resources for the younger patrons are all in place, to deliver specialist staff training, and to commission a hugely useful pre-visit film for new visitors.  These make the event as accessible, smooth-running and enjoyable as possible for everybody.”

Julia Begley, Digital Community Executive at Autism West Midlands also added “It is fantastic to see Relaxed Performances at the Hippodrome, which is a major institution in Birmingham. Relaxed Performances allow people with disabilities to access activities and events that others may take for granted. They introduce people to the arts and to theatre in a way that is accessible to them, and we are delighted to be working with the theatre to make this possible.”

The Relaxed Performance of the UK’s biggest pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk stars Jane McDonald, Duncan James, Chris Gascoyne, Gary Wilmot, Paul Zerdin and Matt Slack and takes place on Thursday 29 January 2015 at 1pm. Tickets priced at £12.50 (inc. transaction charge) are available on 0844 338 7000 (calls from 5p per minute).  www.birminghamhippodrome.com/relaxed

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