Matilda announces relaxed performances as show addresses West End’s problematic relationship with disabled audiences

Adam Bloodworth March 29, 2018
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Going to the theatre is nearly impossible if you’re mentally disabled. Finally, mainstream theatres are addressing the issue by creating ‘relaxed’ performances – but there isn’t nearly enough of them.

Matilda the musical is one of the first major West End shows to announce relaxed performances for those with autism and learning difficulties. On Sunday 10 June, the show will be reinvented for London audiences who otherwise wouldn’t be able to sit through it.

Elements of the production have been edited, and audiences members will be able to move around during the show if they need to.

Lighting and sound design has been adapted to reduce moments that could potentially be anxiety-inducing, as well as the sound which has been softened to reduce stress.

Audiences will also be free to move around the auditorium, as well as head to designated ‘chill-out’ hubs where they can step away from the action.

Before attendees arrive they will be sent additional visual storytelling, to help audiences gain a better understanding of the show.

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And ticket prices have been slashed to make the show as accessible to diverse audiences as possible.

The Birmingham Hippodrome is also offering a relaxed performance of Matilda on Thursday 19 July.

The relaxed performance initiative is a collaborative project from Royal Shakespeare Company, behind Matilda, the National Autistic Society and Mousetrap Theatre Projects who work to promote theatre for disabled audiences.

And staff at theatres have been given extra training in light of the new audiences.

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Mousetrap Theatre Projects say: “We believe passionately in the power of theatre to transform young lives. We aim to engage young people through theatre and drama, using it creatively to educate, challenge and inspire them.”

“We serve young people primarily from across London, focussing on those who experience disadvantage – whether economic, social or through a learning or sensory disability.”

Matilda opened in London in 2012 to largely good reviews. The show has now played to over 7 million people worldwide, and features the music of musical comedian, Tim Minchin.

The show is based on the classic children’s story written by Roald Dahl, which went on to be turned into a successful Hollywood blockbuster in the Nineties.

Book tickets online by visiting the Matilda musical website, or the Birmingham Hippodrome

More: disabled, Going Out, Theatre

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