Since 2018, Malthouse Theatre has been collaborating with A_tistic developing a Relaxed Performance practice for their programmed work.
Starting in the late 2000s in the UK, Relaxed Performances were designed to create spaces in which autistic and neurodivergent children could feel welcome and safe so that they and their families could enjoy live performances without feeling stigmatised or triggered. Through alterations to the stagecraft, and reading of a visual story, a trip to the theatre becomes a safe and relaxed affair.
Since then, the Relaxed Performance practice has proliferated around the world.
Malthouse Theatre, in working with A_tistic, has taken another step forward with the development of Relaxed Performances suitable for adult audiences. These performances are inclusive of autistic and neurodivergent people, but also a large number of other groups—those who prefer their theatre a little quieter, those who don’t wish to sit still, those with emotionally draining jobs, and those who may feel unwelcome in theatre due to social protocols or not having a history of attending theatre.
The key to a successful Relaxed Performance is creating a space in which everyone is welcomed into a Relaxed Performance space.
From a Malthouse Theatre Relaxed Performance, you can expect the following:
- A Relaxed Guide document made available at least 3–4 weeks prior to the relaxed showing, that details how to get to the venue, the content of the show, and everything else you will need to know before attending on the day
- A quiet space made available during the performance, for audience members who wish to remove themselves from the theatre space to destress
- A show introduction that sets the relaxed atmosphere for the audience
- A performance with technical work tailored by an autistic consultant to preserve the original design of the show while accommodating for sensory overstimulation
- Staff on hand to care for audience needs in a timely and conscientious manner
Malthouse Theatre is excited not only by this enshrining of inclusion within their mainstage Season but by the prospect of developing relaxed practices unique to its physical location and programming style. We, therefore, encourage you to come along to our Relaxed Performances and let us know how you went, and what more you may want from these events.
To dig deeper into the practice of Relaxed Performances, you can read about it here.
–Tom Middleditch, A_Tistic