Autism friendly performance of Beauty and the Beast

This year’s pantomime at Oakengates Theatre will be accessible to even more people with a special ‘relaxed performance’ for children and adults who may not be comfortable in a traditional theatre sett

Autism friendly performance of Beauty and the Beast

Relaxed theatre performances are open to all but have been specially designed to welcome families and groups who would benefit from a more relaxed environment, including people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory and communication disorders, or a learning disability.

Theatre lighting, special effects and sound levels can sometimes be unsettling so the performance of Beauty and the Beast on Sunday 4 January 2015 at 1pm will be adjusted to reflect the audience’s needs.

Panto producer Paul Holman said: “The house lighting will be left on as darkness can often be frightening and we will be removing any special effects, such as strobe lighting and noises that could be too loud and alarming.

“Theatre can sometimes be perceived as a stuffy experience when people have to sit still and be quiet during the performance but it is the complete opposite at a relaxed performance. If anyone needs to move around or react vocally, they are free to do so.”

There will also be a quiet zone where people can unwind and then return to the auditorium when they are ready.

Some families and groups may have avoided a trip to the theatre in the past, worrying that the experience might be too stressful. With the introduction of relaxed performances providing a whole new experience, in a safe and accepting environment, it is hoped even more people will feel comfortable to enjoy live theatre.

Theatre manager Debbie King said: “We are hoping that this specially adapted performance of Beauty and the Beast will encourage people who may have been concerned about coming in the past, to give the theatre a try.

“Our team are dedicated to welcoming everyone into the theatre and if anyone is considering coming to the relaxed performance but would like to find out more about the venue, they would be delighted to show them around the theatre.”

To arrange a tour and meet the staff in advance, please call the theatre on 01952 382382.

Tickets for the relaxed performance of Beauty and the Beast are priced at £9.50 - £16, with special discounts for families and groups. Tickets are available from, by calling the ticket office on 01952 382382 or in person at the theatre and Southwater One.

Wheelchair spaces must be booked in advanced direct with the ticket office as these spaces are limited and it may not be possible to accommodate wheelchairs on the day if they have not been pre-booked.