When you live with chronic pain or a long term health condition it’s very easy to believe that certain activities or day’s out just aren’t accessible anymore. However, sometimes it’s about just doing things a little differently. As a well seasoned disabled theatre goer I wanted to share some tips today on how to have the most accessible theatre trip.
For starters, don’t assume that you have to travel into London to watch great theatre. The London transport system is not as accessible as I’d like, and if that alone feels like too high a mountain to climb, then look a little closer to home. Most people have a good regional theatre within an hour of them that will show the big UK tours, often of shows that are in, or have been in the West End. You can also take a look and see if you have any local theatre productions going on, it’s all about researching what’s nearby.
When it comes to theatre’s accessibility, firstly think about if you’d need to watch a specific accessible performance. Theatres offer audio described, captioned, BSL interpreted and relaxed performances to cater for different needs. Information about when these performances are on will be on the theatres website.
Also available on the theatres website will be accessibility information. Usually you can find information of how many stairs there are to each seating section, and where you can find the step free seats. Also think about if you need more space to stretch your legs, or whether you’ll need to leave the auditorium during the show for any reason, an aisle seat near an exit or a seat in a box may be more appropriate. Most theatres will also have wheelchair spaces available for people who need to stay in their wheelchair for the show.
Theatres will be able to assist you in finding the best seat for your needs, contact information should be found on the accessibility page on their website. If you need a personal assistant or carer with you then their ticket will often be free, and sometimes there are other access discounts available.
On the day of your visit the theatre’s access hosts will be able to assist you with finding the step free entrance, the accessible toilet and assisting with getting drinks from the bar or purchasing merchandise. I often find that the front of house staff can make a great deal of difference when it comes to my theatre trips.
Don’t forget to pack any medication, heat pads or mobility aids that might make your experience more comfortable too. And finally, enjoy it!