The aim of a relaxed performance is to make the whole theatre experience more enjoyable for those who have difficulties dealing with a more formal production.
Lynsey O’Sullivan, the Lowry’s director of learning and engagement, has been responsible for preparing everything for next week’s special performance.
“What happens with a lot of relaxed performances is that they tend to be for young children or families,” she said. “We want to make sure that adults and people of all ages who may prefer to come to the theatre in a relaxed environment have that opportunity.
“If we can do it on something that is such a smash hit phenomenon as War Horse that is even more important.”
War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, has become one of the National Theatre’s most successful adaptations. It tells the story of the heart-warming tale of Albert Narracott, his beloved horse Joey and their extraordinary journey through the First World War.
With its larger than life sized puppets and scenes from the trenches, War Horse represents particular challenges for a relaxed performance.
“In terms of its subject might not think it’s the most relaxed production you could see,” said Lynsey. “So that makes it even more important that we do something around this show – we don’t just want to pick the easier ones.”
The National Theatre did one relaxed performance when the show was in the West End but until the Lowry asked to stage one it had never been attempted before on tour.
“It’s about getting the balance of not stripping too much away from the show so that you don’t feel you are getting the full experience but reducing things where needed,” said Lynsey.
“So volume levels will come down especially for things like gun shots and the lighting will kept on a little in the auditorium. Also in a conventional performance you won’t come in and out at will but with this you can. We will leave the doors open so you can come in and out when you want and have a break.”
A special ‘chill out’ area is being created outside the main auditorium with a live feed from the stage
The relaxed production is suitable for those with Autistic Spectrum Condition, people with sensory and communication disorders, and those with learning disabilities.
The Lowry team have prepared a visual guide to the show which has been sent to everyone who has already booked for the relaxed performance.
“It’s a guide that explains not only about the show including timings when the gunshots are so you can plan whether you want to come out or not but also pictures of the building and the box office so you can familiarise yourself with the theatre in advance,” said Lynsey.
The Lowry is committed to making its productions as accessible as possible and the number of relaxed performances has increased by 200 per cent in the last 18 months.
“We want to make sure there is a regular offering for people,” said Lynsey.
War Horse relaxed performance, Thursday, June 28.
John Anson, Bolton News