Birmingham Hippodrome to Host Relaxed Performance of Dick Whittington

Birmingham Hippodrome to Host 4th Relaxed Performance of Pantomime

Following the success of last year’s Relaxed Performance of Aladdin in January 2016, Birmingham Hippodrome is thrilled to play host to a Relaxed Performance of the rags-to-riches pantomime adventure, Dick Whittington on Thurs 26 January 2017. 

Relaxed performances are open to anyone, but are intended to cater for people with special needs who may find going to the theatre challenging, in particular people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, learning disability or sensory and communication disorders.

To help make everyone feel welcome at Birmingham Hippodrome during a Relaxed Performance, fewer seats are available for sale, providing increased wheelchair capacity and giving audience members more space to make them feel more comfortable. Attendees are also welcome to walk in and out of the auditorium and make noise throughout a production. Certain aspects of staging are also specially adapted for the audience which include minor adjustments to the script, reduced noise levels and the use of raised house lights.

Following the success of the ’12 Days of Christmas Challenge’, which helped raise over £15,000 in support of Relaxed Performances at Birmingham Hippodrome throughout December, Hippodrome CREATIVE is delighted to be expanding its Relaxed Performance programme in 2017 which – for the first time – will include a specially-adapted performance of the acclaimed National Theatre production; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time on Mon 3 Jul at 7.30pm.

Rob Macpherson, Director of Marketing and Development at Birmingham Hippodrome, said; ‘A visit to pantomime can be an unforgettable experience, whatever your age. For audiences with specialist access or complex learning needs, visiting a traditional theatre setting can often seem overwhelming. By expanding our existing programme of Relaxed Performances, we hope to provide up to 5,000 additional patrons with a safe, inclusive and enjoyable environment in which to share in the magic of live theatre this festive season and beyond. We are extremely grateful to audiences, donors and members for their continued generosity and support in helping to ensure everyone’s welcome at Birmingham Hippodrome.’

Vidar Hjardeng MBE added ‘As both a Birmingham Hippodrome Board member and Chair of its Access Forum, making sure everyone has the chance to enjoy the amazing experiences the theatre has to offer is very important to me and all of us at the Hippodrome. It’s very important we create a welcoming, inclusive and relaxed environment for individuals and families who may not always get the opportunity to experience the joy of live theatre.”

Comedian and Performer Matt Slack, who plays Idle Jack in Dick Whittington said: ‘The ‘Relaxed Performance’ is, without doubt, my favourite show of the year. It’s an event that’s very close to my heart as I have an autistic nephew and know just how tough it can be for families visiting the theatre, who may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable within that setting. With a Relaxed Performance, everyone is made to feel welcome – it’s a very special atmosphere and, as a performer, there’s nothing like seeing the smiling faces of families and groups sharing in that magic!’

A relaxed performance is all about creating a welcoming, inclusive and relaxed environment for audiences who may find coming to the theatre overwhelming. A typical Relaxed Performances may feature:

  1. Sensory Rooms – For each Relaxed Performance we create a sensory room for anyone who finds the busy foyers overwhelming
  2. Captioned Boards – We have two caption boards at every Relaxed Performance, for deaf and partially deaf audiences. They display the actors’ words and sound effects in real time
  3. Bean Bags – You’ll find a soft play room at every Relaxed Performance, as a break-out space for us before and during the show.
  4. Community Coaches – With extra funding, we can put on community transport for special schools and support groups to get to the show.
  5. Fidget Toys – Fidget toys are very popular at our Relaxed Performances! Perfect as a calming device for those with sensory needs.
  6. Signing Singers – Our signers using British Sign Language to interpret the performance. They even sign the songs!
  7. Audio Describers – Audio Description enables blind and visually impaired audiences to enjoy the show!  It provides a live commentary of all the on-stage action.
  8. Special Schools – By reducing the ticket prices, our Relaxed Performances can be enjoyed by special schools from all over the West Midlands.
  9. Volunteers – We work with volunteers to create an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for everyone.
  10. A Ten Minute Film – We create a special film to send to audiences, to help reduce any anxieties about visiting us.
  11. Wheelchairs – We create extra wheelchair spaces in the auditorium for every Relaxed Performance, boosting our access offer
  12. Sparkly Hats – If you attend a Relaxed Performance, you’ll see plenty of sparkly hats! They are worn by our staff and volunteers so we are easy to spot.

To book for a Relaxed Performance please call us on 0844 338 5000†. Dick Whittington runs until Sun 29 Jan at Birmingham Hippodrome. To find out more about future Relaxed Performances at Birmingham Hippodrome, visit

Photo Credit: Simon Hadle

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