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Marina Theatre thrilled by community response to relaxed pantomime performance

PUBLISHED: 16:31 02 January 2019

The chill out zone at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft, which is celebrating the success of its relaxed pantomime event. Picture: Marina Theatre

The chill out zone at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft, which is celebrating the success of its relaxed pantomime event. Picture: Marina Theatre

Archant

A theatre is celebrating after record numbers enjoyed a relaxed pantomime performance.

And the event was praised by the community after more than 550 people attended the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft for the relaxed pantomime performance of Peter Pan.

A theatre spokesman said that last Friday’s (December 28) event “was intended specifically to be sensitive to and accepting of audience members who may benefit from a more relaxed environment, including – but not limited to – those with autistic spectrum conditions, anyone with sensory and communication disorders, learning disabled people, people with dementia or even just very small children.”

With adjustments made to the show itself, the theatre also implemented small changes around the building in order to make the event as inclusive as possible.

The theatre’s chief executive, Emma Butler Smith, said: “We made adjustments to our regular show formula in order to ensure that it was an enjoyable experience for everyone.

“It can be the smallest adjustments that make the biggest difference. The house lights were left dim, instead of dark. We limited some of the special effects such as sudden loud noises and bright flashes.

“Some of the scarier aspects of the show were toned down. At the start of the show one of our actors gave an introduction to all of the characters and explained that they were wearing costumes and such.”

Paul Bain, operations manager, added: “A relaxed approach to usual theatre etiquette was required.

“The audience members were allowed to come and go from the auditorium as frequently as they pleased, with stewards on hand as normal to assist.

“We set up a ‘chill out’ zone for those who might require a break during the performance.

“Lowestoft Library were kind enough to provide quiet activities, books and toys for the ‘chill out’ zone, for which we are very grateful.”

The Marina also provided the public with materials with which to prepare for their visit to the theatre. A visual story video guide to visiting the theatre was uploaded to the theatre’s Facebook page and website, and printed visual story guides to the Pantomime story and the theatre building were available from the box office.

The provision of the relaxed performance was praised by the local community on social media, one Facebook user posting: “We attended the pantomime for the relaxed performance with residents some who have dementia it was fantastic they loved it, sang along and clapped their hands. Thank you for putting the needs of others first. We will be back next year.”

Another Facebook user wrote: “We came to the relaxed performance, our daughter has wanted to go to a panto for the last couple of years but this is the first year we have been able to convince our son to go to one. The Marina Theatre putting on this relaxed performance meant we finally all got to experience the fun of the pantomime. Thank you.”

The chief executive added: “We are beyond delighted that, by providing a relaxed pantomime experience, some families and groups were able to visit the theatre, when otherwise they might not have been able to.

“This is certainly something we look forward to doing more of in the future.”

Tickets for Marina Theatre’s 2019 pantomime, Snow White, are on sale now.

Tickets, including those for the relaxed performance on December 29, 2019, are available from the box office on 01502 533200 or via www.marinatheatre.co.uk

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