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Guest Blog: English National Opera's Amy Powell On Relaxed Performances


The ENO is offering relaxed performances of HMS Pinafore and The Cunning Little Vixen

Guest Blog: English National Opera's Amy Powell On Relaxed Performances
HMS Pinafore

All around the UK, theatres put on accessible performances for their audience and there's often different types of access schemes on offer. But what is a relaxed performance?

Relaxed performances are ideal for anyone who benefits from a more relaxed environment at the theatre, offering an inclusive space and a warm welcome to people who find it difficult to follow the usual theatre etiquette. 

This may include anyone with dementia, learning disabilities, an autistic spectrum condition, other neurological conditions, sensory disorders, anxiety, bladder and bowel conditions, and those with young children or babies. At the English National Opera (ENO) we want everyone to be able to come and enjoy our operas. Relaxed performances help make this possible.

Relaxed performances have a laidback approach to noise and movement coming from the audience, giving permission for everyone to relax and respond naturally. People may choose to attend a relaxed performance because they have an access requirement or because they like the inclusive environment.

This 2021/22 season, the ENO is staging two relaxed performances at the London Coliseum: one for Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore on Friday 3 December 2021 and the second for Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen on Saturday 26 February 2022. The responsibility for making these shows 'relaxed' is shared by the audience, the ENO and London Coliseum team and venue, and the performers.

Guest Blog: English National Opera's Amy Powell On Relaxed Performances
The Cunning Little Vixen

For these relaxed performances, we'll have a less formal environment. You can come and go from the auditorium when you want, for however long you want, even when the performance is happening, and we leave the lights in the auditorium turned on so you can move around safely.

Making noise during the performance is allowed and, in fact, encouraged! If you need to take time out, you can come and hang out in one of the quiet chill-out zones in the front-of-house areas. Consideration is also given to sound and lighting levels, taking into account sensory sensitivities and removing loud or sudden sound effects and flashes.

Why are relaxed performances important? Relaxed performances offer a way to reach more people, including individuals and families who might normally find it difficult to access opera and theatre.

Together with many other UK arts and cultural organisations, we strongly advocate that making theatre, opera and cultural experiences accessible and inclusive only leads to more enriching experiences for everyone. Relaxed performances allow each individual performance to become unique reinforcing the immediacy of live theatre, and for many people relaxed performances offer a more enhanced theatrical experience which benefits everyone! Sounds good, right?

We are incredibly excited for more people to experience opera for the first time at our upcoming relaxed performances this 2021/22 season. To find out more about the ENO's relaxed performances, go to:


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