Going to new places for potentially exciting events (Crowds! Lights! Music! Performance!) isn’t exactly relaxing for some people – or the people who support them.
But all credit to the Court Theatre here in Christchurch for recently staging “A Relaxed Performance” of their school holiday production of The Little Mermaid.
This was a performance at which people with intellectual disabilities were welcome with special consideration given by the actors and crew to allowing for symptoms of their conditions.
So some lessening of loud or sudden noises, overly dramatic outbursts and changes to lighting may have occurred for this particular show.
In addition the actors and crew were themselves relaxed about sudden noises, overly dramatic outbursts or changes in movement from the audience.
And by default the parents, siblings and caregivers were more relaxed as nobody stared, nobody shushed and nobody minded anything in this wonderful warm inclusive magic of theatre.
The Court Theatre did everything right, beginning with sending out an information pack with pictures of the venue and characters, a story synopsis and details of parking and facilities – and ending with welcoming ushers, an enthusiastic talented cast and of course a fabulous show.
Claudia was beside herself with excitement, checking the tickets and the diary every day until showtime.
She was out of the car and striding in to the theatre, all quivering excitement and assertion.
She took her seat and sat reasonably quietly, absorbing the atmosphere and talking about the stage.
She sat bolt upright for the characters and listened to what they said.
She understood way more of the story than I anticipated and I suspect this is due to it being told to her in a live setting with live people talking to her in a real space.
She loved all the music, joined in with all the actions and shouted out to the villain when invited to.
And sometimes when she wasn’t – but nobody minded.
And she clapped and clapped and clapped – for once in her life it was exactly the right response at the right time!
That isn’t an opportunity we get very often.
She was too overcome (in a fangirly way) to have her photograph taken with any of the cast at the end and after refusing to leave her seat in the theatre tried to bolt straight out the door.
But the wonderful responsive cast were onto her, called out and went to her to say hello.
What heroes – for her and for us and everybody else in the theatre that day.
Thank you Court Theatre – for making the “Relaxed” effort.
It is very much appreciated.