Breathe…and relax

Unlimited Trainee Sonny Nwachukwu reports from a Relaxed Peformance workshop he attended in March…

I attended the relaxed performance workshop in Derby which was facilitated by Theatre Maker Jess Thom. The setting was very fitting to the workshop and Jess Thom created a space of relaxation as well as knowledge. The room was filled with people from all different backgrounds in the arts. From artists themselves, theatre managers, event organisers and also just people who wanted to know more about relaxed performances and how they can incorporate it into their place of work or art.

To understand relaxed performance’s it was key to understand the social model of disability and how it’s different to the medical model. You can find out more about the social model in our easy to access video. We also have past blogs where you can find out more on the social model of disability and how you can incorporate it into your daily lives as well as your work place.

Definition of  a Relaxed Performance

Taken from Jess Thom’s website: A Relaxed performance offers a warm welcome to people who find it difficult to follow the usual conventions of theatre behaviour. This can include: people with learning disabilities, movement disorders, autistic spectrum disorder, other neurological conditions, those with young children or babies, and people with Tourettes.

Many other people may choose to attend a relaxed performance, either as an access requirement or because they like the inclusive environment.

Relaxed performances take a laid-back approach to noises or movement coming from the audience. They give everyone permission to relax and respond naturally. Many people feel that relaxed performances offer a more dynamic theatrical experience, which benefits everyone.

Sonny’s Reflection

As an artist myself who is looking in the future to put on my own work, it really did make me think about the choices that I will make. At first, I had that ‘strict tunnel vision’ approach, that when attending the cinema, there should be silence and nothing else. My thinking behind this reason, is that it enhances you more to what is happening on the screen and to some extent this could be true. The workshop made me question, is this actually true or is it just a random human social norm? I then realised, when watching a movie with family or friends, the enjoyment I got from talking about the movie whilst its going on or being able to lie down really did deepen my movie experience.

The central benefits of having relaxed performance’s is of course inclusivity; including all to experience your work in different ways and forms is surely what an artist wants to achieve. The message of inclusivity alone should be the main reason why I feel more theatres and artist should start looking at adopting relaxed performance and not just at 2.30pm…On a Wednesday.

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