The Lowry and the National Theatre are to stage a ‘relaxed’ performance of the hit show, War Horse on Thursday 28 June at 2pm.
The relaxed performance is for for anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment in the theatre, including people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, people with sensory and communication disorders, and those with learning disabilities.
The heart-warming tale of Albert Narracott, his beloved horse Joey and their extraordinary journey through the First World War is returning to The Lowry in Salford in June following two record-breaking runs in 2013 and 2014.
At the relaxed performance the show’s lighting and sound levels will be adjusted to soften their impact and there is a relaxed attitude to noise within the auditorium during the performance. The house lights will remain on throughout and the entrances and exits to the theatre will be left open. These changes seek to reduce anxiety or stress for audience members – and chill out areas will be created in the foyer for audience members who want a time out from the performance.
Many people with autism experience anxiety in new situations or environments so a visual story, available to audiences prior to the performance so they can familiarise themselves with the story of War Horse and the theatre environment, has been developed to help prepare the audience for their visit.
Ros Hayes, head of access at the National Theatre said: ““We want to provide an opportunity for everybody to enjoy a visit to the theatre, as a family together or with friends. We want to create a welcoming, stress-free environment and our directors, designers and technical teams have worked really hard to achieve that. We’re looking forward to working with The Lowry on this Relaxed Performance of War Horse and to welcoming all audiences in to the theatre to experience this show.”
Julia Fawcett OBE, chief executive of The Lowry, said: “Relaxed performances are one of the ways The Lowry and our artistic partners seek to welcome anyone who may find the usual theatre environment a challenge. War Horse is one of the most popular shows in The Lowry’s history, with two record-breaking runs to its name. We’re delighted to be welcoming ‘Joey’ and the rest of the cast and crew back a third time – and are proud to be hosting this relaxed performance for our patrons.”
Commenting on The Lowry and the National Theatre’s plans, Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “We are delighted that The Lowry is staging a relaxed performance of the hugely successful War Horse. There are more than 700,000 autistic people in the UK, and many struggle to cope with everyday sights and sounds which other people are able to filter out, such as fluorescent lighting, background music or traffic noise. Autistic people and their families tell us that they would love to go to the theatre, but because of these sensory issues they are prevented from doing so, which can leave them feeling socially isolated. The adaptations made to the performance on 28 June mean that for many of the audience this will be the very first time they are able to experience the thrill of a live show.”
Around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Together with their families, this means autism is a part of daily life for around 2.8 million people. Relaxed Performances enable everyone to have access to theatre and stories such as War Horse.