Audience Feedback on THE GHOST TRAIN Relaxed Performance: 9 June 2015
My daughter is 42 years old has ASC(D) and learning disabilities, so is in the low to middle end of the spectrum. Her behaviour can be challenging. She lives in 'independent living' in a bungalow, with 24/7 care. She attended with one of her PA team. I came as I was interested to see how the performance would be managed. I didn't sit with her as she would not have liked that as it is 'not my day'!
I was very impressed with the organisation of the RP.
The booklet provided to help people familiarise themselves with the theatre was well thought out. I went through it with my daughter beforehand, as did her PA, to reduce anxiety before the visit. My daughter held it during the performance and referred to it now and again (she does like to have something to fiddle with in her hands.) The time sheet with the clocks was a very good idea and Jenny will have been checking up that it was correct!
Welcoming: On arrival at the theatre the hall was calm and fairly quiet, and she was greeted by theatre staff. There were comfy areas with activities. Some activities would have been too difficult for my daughter, but the theatre's objects trail was just right and gave her something to do, supported by her PA.
She was happy to enter the theatre, and I had chosen seats I knew that she would be comfortable sitting in, not too near the front, but not too far back and at the end of an aisle. She could make a quick exit if needed. Her PA commented that she thought that having the doors open nearby was a very good idea, as my daughter would not feel closed in.
The actors introducing themselves before the performance added to the comfortable atmosphere, and made the performance feel more friendly and personal.
Sound: the reduced noise levels were spot on. I had seen the standard performance and the opening was very noisy... excellent for me, but I don't think my daughter would have stayed in the theatre if it had begun in the same way. No gun shots suited my daughter well, and that bit was really amusing. Lots of laughter from the audience.
At the discussion session afterwards someone with ASC commented that the audience noises were very distracting. There was a small amount of noise, which would not have bothered most people in the situation, as that was expected really. This lady was obviously on the Aspergers end of the spectrum, and it is difficult to cater for all those on the spectrum as they are so different.
The audience was fairly small, but this is probably not surprising for the first time. Hopefully the word will get around and more people will attend next time. The upside of a smaller audience was that it didn't feel crowded. Groups were well spread out around the space and not surrounded by strangers. Large crowds squashed in can be intimidating.
My daughter stayed in until the end and appeared calm. To me that is a success. I heard her speaking on a few occasions and she laughed at some of the slapstick, which I knew she would enjoy. I spoke with her briefly afterwards and she didn't make any comment. She will talk about it in her own time. Pressurising her to make comments will only make her clam up. If she is happy to go to the next one we will know how she felt about this one.
All in all a very good experience.
We had a lovely afternoon and both really enjoyed the performance and the lunch beforehand. Please pass on our thanks to Amanda and all the team who worked so hard to organise the performance. I'd love to see the theatre doing more relaxed performances and especially liked that it was not segregated and other theatre goers could attend as well.
I was really pleased to attend the relaxed performance. It was a real eye opener and I found that, although there were distractions, it didn't stop me from enjoying the performance for a second time.
The young man my friend had brought does come to productions with her, so she thought it would be interesting to see how he got on, but didn't want to insult him by suggesting it. However he was game for it and it was a success as he did mutter a bit but she was able to relax and not keep shushing him. She does have problems with trying to keep him quiet and think from time to time people around them are cross on a normal evening.
They stayed for the question and answer session, which they had thoroughly enjoyed and thought the actors were great with everybody. My friend also thought Amanda was great in dealing with some person who wanted to dominate the questions.
I asked if he had been more talkative than usual, about the production, in the car going home and she said he had. So for them a great success and they would certainly go to another one.
It had been an out of the blue decision as she had been on the website looking for what was on and times etc, then saw the relaxed performance advertised.
I just want to say I was really impressed with the work you had gone to to support students with autism during the Ghost train.
I brought a group of 7 students and they all really enjoyed it. I used the relaxed break out spaces and being able to come in and out of the theatre was really useful, as one of my students needed regular exercise breaks.
The staff were fantastic and I could tell they all had a clear understanding of the students visiting the theatre. Everybody checked I was ok when I left the theatre and assured me it didn’t matter about the noises my students made.
We all felt very relaxed and catered for.
The visual guide was fantastic!
Look forward to future events.
I brought my sister to yesterday's matinee performance. She has Alzheimer's and cannot always sustain concentration for any length of time. She has difficulty following a plot and cannot always differentiate between characters. Having said all that, she thoroughly enjoyed what she did see. And so did I. The humour was nicely played, the 'train' was delightful, the parrot very clever and deserved her own applause, the 'business' throughout was absolutely first class. We both enjoyed all of that but the red haired lady disturbed her. "I'm going like that." I could see her point. What can be worse than knowing you are losing your mind. So, we left at the interval. The lady who followed us down the stairs was concerned and did say that the second half was much shorter - which we knew - and my sister could sit on a sofa and wait for me whilst I watched the second half. But I would not have rested easy. When I am not there, she goes walkabout and then we have people running round in small circles trying to find out who she is looking for.
Thank you again for the superb performance and for opening it to people who would not otherwise get to see theatre. Do tell the actors how much we enjoyed it.
Dorothy is going into respite care today so I might just get along to see what I missed. Oh, and do tell the lady in the cafe who enquired about our dog (he takes coffee with us in the Exchange when we are in town) that we will be in for lunch one day soon.
It was great to watch The Ghost Train and it was clear to see how much the audience enjoyed your first relaxed performance - Amanda’s attention to detail & thoughtful planning certainly made it a special experience for everyone. Thanks again for inviting us and best wishes to you all.
I thought the performance was excellent and the slight alterations were beautifully done. People living with disabilities felt comfortable. A teacher/carer who had a young man in her charge went in and out with him but it did not affect the audience or actors. It was important for him to experience a theatrical performance which he could relate to emotionally.
The audience was a great one... better than some I've been in. The information in the handout and the booklet was clear and jargon free. If the booklet is reproduced I think mention should be made to the Information Point.
Thank you very much for your warm welcome and kind hospitality yesterday. It was a great experience across the whole day and a privilege to be at your first RP. Well done on all your hard work leading up to it, it was smooth and very relaxed. I'm impressed nobody tried to leap onto the stage! I hope the day was a success from your perspective, and the start of something big for Royal Exchange. Thanks once again for your welcome yesterday.
I just wanted to thank you for providing us with the free tickets for the performance on Tuesday. Our service users thoroughly enjoyed it and have not stopped talking about it! A few of them had never been to the theatre before either so it was such an amazing opportunity for them.
Personally I felt that the performance was done superbly to meet a variety of different support needs. We would love to be involved with future relaxed performances as overall we thought it was excellent. On behalf of our service users I would like to thank you very much for putting on a fantastic event.
Comments and feed back from our online survey:
It was very well done, and provided a relaxed environment for those with different support needs
It felt comforting that I could get outside at any time and there were no sudden loud noises or strobe lighting
Even though there were disruptions in the performance from other audience members, I didn't mind/ care. Overall I found this performance a lot better than previous event and enjoyed it greatly
I supported several people with disabilities to attend the performance and they really enjoyed it. They felt much more comfortable
I enjoy going to the theatre but I had never been to a relaxed show before. When supporting Members it was much more informal than the usual environment and this was much better for Members
I brought a group of service users to the theatre performance and they have all provided a lot of positive feedback. Everyone felt at ease, relaxed and welcome at the theatre. They found it incredibly funny too
I would feel uncomfortable in the theatre environment under normal conditions and I really feel unwell with loud sudden noises and strobe lights and big crowds so I have steered away from a lot of cultural and sporting events and generally busy places for most of my life because of this. So thank you for the opportunity to visit the theatre for the relaxed performance of Ghost train it was a pleasurable experience.
As a carer it was very relaxing and took my mind off some of the problems of every day
We brought an autistic person to the performance and he enjoyed it and we partook of the Q and A session after the play which was great
Front of House Staff feedback:
The relaxed performance was such a rewarding experience for me in all sorts of ways; some funny; most just positive and heart-warming.
This was the first time I have shown someone to their seat and had my hand kissed and squeezed as a thank you. The young downs syndrome affected young man concerned proceeded to give me thumbs up pre-show whilst I checked on and seated others and then' when I sat down behind him, a further hand squeeze and hold occurred. He then made affirmative and enjoyment noises throughout the first half and it was good that I was able to re-assure both him and his Mum that this was okay. At the interval he stood and walked onto the stage baring his entire bum; no one commented or seemed to be embarrassed. He returned for the second half having guzzled a bottle of coke. His mum was concerned that he would now need to dash to the toilet at an 'inappropriate moment. Again She was happy when I said that this would not be a problem. In the event he lasted to the end of the show and I was able to go with them to facilitate the use of the Green room disabled toilet.
As they left he and his Mum said that it had been a good experience. His Mum said it was like going on holiday for the afternoon! CUE: more hand hugs und kisses.
I don't know about them; but I felt like a king.
Thank you for the opportunity and the experience.
Relaxed performances are just a brilliant idea, as a teacher I try to get my students as involved in the community as possible, no matter how complex their needs. Knowing they will be welcomed at the theatre, that they will be encouraged to express themselves, and being safe in the knowledge that if they are just 'not feeling it' that day no-one will scowl at us, just makes everything so much easier and fun. It's also great to go back to parents and carers , who may also feel the same anxieties when trying out new things, and be able to say that the young people really enjoyed themselves, that they were comfortable in the theatre and also that the theatre was comfortable with them! One of our girls is still gushing that one of the actors sat next to her and it’s amazing to see the students getting as excited about seeing a play as I do. The theatre is exciting, and awe inspiring - who doesn’t want to see a flying human parrot and a train that materialises before your eyes - and I'm so glad our students didn’t have to miss out on seeing this great show just because they might not sit perfectly quietly for a few hours... Chatsworth School