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Creating inclusive spaces

Discover just one of the ways we aim to limit the barriers to accessing theatre through the introduction of Relaxed Performances.

Adapting the theatre environment is a crucial step in enhancing accessibility for our audiences.

Theatre is for everyone.

A core component of our pledge is being able to welcome new audiences to the theatre, but also to limit the barriers that exist. Relaxed Performances are just one way we aim to make this a reality.

By making small but significant changes to the way we stage some performances, we aim to create a space for those who might otherwise be prevented from engaging with theatre. This may include audience members with diverse sensory and cognitive abilities or conditions like attentional deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and anxiety. Modifications include adjusting sound and lighting to limit sudden loud noises and bright lights which can be overwhelming for some.

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A dedicated quiet space in the theatre foyer is offered for Relaxed Performances. Photo: Brodi Purtill

Introduced during Season 2023, the first Relaxed Performances were held for Bloom and A Very Jewish Christmas Carol. For both productions, audience members are also able to access a visual story, an insightful guide for those prefer to familiarise themselves with what to expect when they see a show. Visual stories outline the plot of the production, describe elements of the set, state any possible sensory warnings and provide helpful information on accessing the theatre.

Seating in Relaxed Performances is also much more flexible, with audience members encouraged to move around and sit wherever they wish. A dedicated quiet space is also offered in the theatre foyer for those who need a break from the show. This freedom to adjust their surroundings gives those in attendance the choice as to how they want to manage the sensory experience of seeing a live production.

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Miriam Glaser and Evelyn Krape in A Very Jewish Christmas Carol (2023). Photo: Pia Johnson

Relaxed Performances are an important component of the many initiatives at Melbourne Theatre Company designed to break down barriers to accessing the joys of theatre. It is thanks to our generous Donors that these initiatives can continue at the scale, frequency and impact all audiences deserve.

In 2024, this includes significant subsidized ticket schemes, new recordings for MTC Digital Theatre, and Relaxed Performances of A Streetcar Named Desire and My Brilliant Career.

Your support is vital to provide access to theatre for all. Please consider making a donation to Melbourne Theatre Company today.

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Published on 26 April 2024

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