Do you have small children? Enjoy traditions? Or are you simply a fan of slapstick comedy and innuendo? If so, you might well have found yourself attending your local pantomime this holiday. I am not a lover of pantomime. But I have a child who is. And so, I have seen two this year. Parenting brownie points for the whole year, I think.
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to attend the relaxed performance of Sleeping Beauty. It was performed at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. And it showed me what accessibility looks like, done well.
The first hurdle is the sweetest…
Despite being a Midlands lass, I hate the Coventry ring road with a passion. It remains one of the most bizarre driving experiences in Warwickshire to me. But when I looked up directions on the Belgrade website I found a video! Some kind (brave) soul had volunteered to drive it, be filmed, and talk us through the chaos! It couldn’t have cost much to produce. It wouldn’t have taken much time to film. But it made our visit far, far easier.
On arrival, the signposting was clear and easy to spot. In the foyer were a team of volunteers, there to help. They wore purple sparkly hats (which got them extra brownie points). Midland Mencap supported nine families in need with free tickets for the show. And they were there in person to hand them out with a smile.
Low-cost colouring pencils = happy children, happy parents
Colouring pencils and paper dotted side tables, keeping children occupied. Volunteers from Coventry Building Society offered help if needed. And they carried baskets full of sensory fidget toys for use throughout the performance. Beautiful twiddle muffs were there for those in need, knitted by volunteers.
The theatre itself is fully wheelchair accessible. The lights were dimmed (not fully). Small changes were made to sound effects. And any special effects were explained at the start. The performance was captioned. As are all Belgrade productions.
If that wasn’t enough… The theatre also offered a familiarisation visit if needed. And provided a small library of social story downloads! The cast was diverse. The audience was diverse. And for a few hours, I got a glimpse into the impact inclusion has on a community. More of it please world!
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