When a Dick Whittington panto booking for 300 SEN children fell through just 48 hours before the show (oh yes it did), managers and performers at Windsor’s Theatre Royal feared the worst, and were on the point of cancelling the show (oh no they didn’t!)
A fortuitous conversation with Dimensions regional assistant Vicky Edgecombe turned things around. Seeing a festive opportunity for the people Dimensions supports and others in the area, Vicky negotiated reduced rates and spent a solid two days on the phone to learning disability organisations, social groups and other local contacts.
With the help of a couple of other colleagues, Vicky eventually secured a thumping 248 ticket sales for the special relaxed performance, which adhered to Dimensions’ Autism Friendly best practice guidelines. Amongst other things the lights were left on low, the sound was turned down, people could move around and bring in their own food.
The theatre also only normally has capacity for 3 wheelchairs but by removing 2 rows of seats they were able to accommodate a lot more. And to the delight of the audience, cast members even joined them in the bar afterwards.
Theatre Manager Robert Miles paid tribute to Vicky’s efforts: “Vicky, the work you and your colleagues do is amazing, especially under the constraints of the funding available at the moment. We all owe you a debt of gratitude for making our society a better, more inclusive place to live…I hope TRW can do it again!”
Dimensions autism friendly campaign manager Sarah Clarke added, “we hope other entertainment venues will look at the Theatre Royal’s success and see just how much demand there is for relaxed performances. A relaxed performance is for life, not just for Christmas!”