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And relax... - a very special performance of Sleeping Beauty

Posted on 4 January 2019

We were delighted to have our second relaxed performance of our panto this year, with Sleeping Beauty following on from last year’s relaxed showing of Cinderalla. A relaxed performance is specifically designed to be an open and welcoming environment for those audience members who may enjoy or benefit from a more laid-back performance style. This includes those with Autism Spectrum Conditions, sensory and communication disorders, learning disabilities, dementia, or other conditions. Take a look below to see what audiences made of the show!

For this show, we made some small changes to the lighting and sound effects: for example, the house lights stayed up at 50%, and we lowered the noise of some of the action on stage. For this performance, there was also an introduction to the action by Iain Lauchlan, our resident dame and writer and director of the panto. He talked through some of the special effects on stage and told people in the audience what to expect from the show.

Ahead of the performance, we produced packs which were made available to download online and to pick up from box office. These included a panto storybook, cast list, introduction to the Belgrade and a show story, so that people would have as much information as possible beforehand, enabling them to to prepare for their visit. We also had a special drop-in session attended by front of house staff and the production team on Saturday 15 December, so that people coming to the relaxed performance could get used to the theatre and have a taste of what to expect from the show.

On the day, we had a number of wonderful volunteers from Coventry Building Society on hand to help people if they needed it. Easily identifiable by their sparkly hats, they provided assistance to our Front of House team, directing people around the building and supporting visitors as required. This is the second year Coventry Building Society employees have volunteered for our relaxed performance, and after a doing a brilliant job last year, they were just as great this year, throwing themselves into the spirit of panto, talking to and assisting patrons, and making the Belgrade a welcoming space for all.

Coventry Building Society Volunteers

We also provided fidget toys in the run up to and during of the show, which proved a huge hit! We were also delighted to be able to offer our audiences a large number of twiddle muffs, generously donated in their droves by knitters from all over Coventry and beyond. Made with sensory attachments such as bobbles and buttons, these soft, therapeutic aids can help to minimise anxiety and/or provide stimulation for restless hands.

Those who donated twiddle muffs included the members of a new knitting group called A Stitch in Time which will be meeting regularly at the Belgrade this year – you can find out more about them here. Several of the knitters also attended a special knit-in at the theatre, which you can read more about here. The twiddle muffs were greatly appreciated by our audience, so a huge thank you to any knitters who happen to be reading this!

The show itself was a massive success, with patrons commenting on how much they enjoyed both the show itself and the informal atmosphere which allowed them to relax at the theatre. We’re already looking forward to our next relaxed performance of panto Puss in Boots, which will be in January 2020.

twiddle muffs