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November 28, 2022

What is a Relaxed Performance?

With littles ones it can be tricky to know if your child is ‘ready’ for pantomime and it can lead to a few concerns in the run up to the show, which means parents don’t get to enjoy the show as much as they used to. We spoke to Hannah Draper, Director of Creative Engagement at Harrogate Theatre about relaxed shows which are a great way to introduce little ones to panto and to the theatre.  

The festive season is approaching and with little ones it’s a great time to honour old traditions and start new ones. A well-loved tradition for many families is going to see Harrogate Theatre’s pantomime to bring a whole lot of laughter and joy to the grey days.  

 With littles ones it can be tricky to know if your child is ‘ready’ for pantomime and it can lead to a few concerns in the run up to the show, which means parents don’t get to enjoy the show as much as they used to. We spoke to Hannah Draper, Director of Creative Engagement at Harrogate Theatre about relaxed shows which are a great way to introduce little ones to panto and to the theatre.  Our relaxed performances for Aladdin will be on Friday 16th December at 12pm and Wednesday 11th January at 10am.

 What is a relaxed performance? 
A relaxed show is designed to welcome anyone who might find visiting the theatre a bit overwhelming. Pantomime is brilliant but the loud noises, flashing lights and busy atmosphere isn’t right for everyone. A relaxed show brings down the volume, keeps auditorium lighting on at a low level throughout and we reduce the capacity so there’s more spaces around each group’s booking. It is expected that audience members will move in and out of the auditorium as needed and even make use of the quieter spaces around the building if required. There are no cuts made to the show, we just make some small adjustments to the technical aspects so it’s a more gentle experience.  

 Who is a relaxed performance for? 
Relaxed performances were originally conceived for people with additional needs who need an environment where they can be themselves. They have the additional benefit of being a lovely way to introduce children to theatre who may be a bit unsure about coming into the theatre.  

They have the additional benefit of being a great way of introducing children who might be a little unsure, to the magic of theatre. 

What if my child won’t sit still or wants to shout out when they shouldn’t?
That’s not a problem at all. The extra space around seats means you don’t have to do the comedy shuffle along a row if you need to visit the loo or have some time out of the auditorium. It’s a wonderful introduction to the main auditorium where traditional aspects of theatre etiquette are not the focus. The children are allowed to move around the auditorium, call out, respond to the action. It is expected that children will want to move out of their seats, comment on what is happening on the stage and shout out both when they are encouraged to and when they are excited by what they are seeing. 

Everyone is attending for their own reason and it means there’s a really supportive atmosphere. The relief for parents and carers of not having to say “be quiet!” often means that they can relax and enjoy the performance too, which in turn relaxes their child.  

Children often believe in the characters they see onstage so the villain can be really scary. How can children be prepared for that? 
We create a familiarisation pack which is on our event booking page. This pack has pictures of all the characters so you can talk them through with your child before you come to the theatre. Also, not to give away any spoilers, but the baddie always comes good in the end!  

Do you do pre-show visits? 
If anyone in your party is feeling anxious about attending where possible we can do short familiarisation visits where you come into the theatre and see where you will be sitting and where all our facilities are. We’ll also have a video available shortly showing you around the theatre to help with this. 

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