Polka was one of the first theatres in the UK to provide Relaxed Performances, starting back in 2006. These shows were originally aimed to appeal to families with children who are on the autism spectrum or have sensory sensitivities, but they have since evolved to be for anyone who would find a more relaxed atmosphere helpful or who would benefit from a less restrictive theatre environment.
What happens at a Relaxed Performance?
During these shows, we limit capacity to around 50% to give everyone a bit more room. We also often have general light levels a bit higher and tone down some of the bigger noises, or offer samples of big moments from the show in advance. We also produce a Relaxed Pack which gives information and photos about coming to the venue and what to expect from the show – find the Cinderella: the AWESOME truth! Relaxed Pack here. Depending on the show there might be other changes made to make sure the experience is a relaxed one. And as with all performances, if you need to go out to take a breather you can do any time and sit in our chill-out space as long as you need to.
Access is very important to us at Polka, and we talk about some of the improvements we’ve made during our redevelopment project in this video.
We are incredibly excited by the hugely improved general accessibility that the building redevelopment will provide, but we know there’s always more to do and we are continuing our journey finding ways of offering provision for people who have particular access needs.
As well as physical access, it is important everyone can afford to come to Polka. We offer reduced rate tickets for people with access requirements and a complimentary ticket for a companion/carer. We also have a range of funded schemes from Curtain Up! to Polka Invites, plus a range of ticket prices, ensuring that nobody misses out.
Did you know there are £10 tickets available for EVERY performance of Cinderella: the AWESOME truth! ?
Other Access Performances – BSL, Audio Described, Captioned
We also run other Access performances for most shows, including Audio Described, BSL and Captioned. These are listed on the show pages for each production – see our What’s On page
A brief history of Polka’s Relaxed Performances
Our work with families and local community organisations highlighted that many families with children on the autism spectrum were concerned about bringing their children to a performance at the theatre. Polka was approached in 2006 by Lambeth Autism Society who were running Autism-Friendly performances at The Ritzy Cinema in Brixton to ask if we would consider running similar performances for families who wished to come to the theatre.
In consultation with Lambeth Autism Society, we piloted an ‘Autism Friendly’ performance of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt in June 2007. This was a dedicated performance for families with children on the autism spectrum. The response was extremely positive. Families enjoyed the performance, appreciated the restricted capacity and 80% of attendees wanted to come back for more autism-friendly performances.
📸 – HuftonCrow