Relaxed Performances and spaces work to remove stigma and barriers and welcome people theatres, art galleries, museums, etc.
Relaxed Performances have been a practice in the UK since the 90's, but have only recently gained momentum in the last few years. Their popularity has skyrocketed.
What Is A Relaxed Performance?
Thanks for checking out this page! While everything on this site is constantly evolving, this page in particular is new and I'm still thinking a lot about how to present this information. Happily, I'm also really busy, but that means it will be slow going. If you have any thoughts or questions, please do contact me!
Relaxed Performances (RP) make live events and venues more accessible to people who have differing needs when entering public spaces by relaxing the traditional etiquette "rules".
RP was originally developed for people on the Autism Spectrum however applications include all people who are neurodiverse, with sensory sensitivities such as Tourette, contend with anxiety, as well as people who simply need to get up and stretch during a show.
How Do Relaxed Performances Work?
The idea behind Relaxed Performances is to welcome all cultural consumers and decolonize the "rules" put in place that many people have challenges with.
For a live theatre performance, this usually includes the creation of a visual story in simple language about your venue and show and how to get to it, and/ or creating a "chill out room". Before the performance, the actors will often come out and introduce themselves, and talk about any moments which may be concerning/ startling to some guests. For the performance, people are usually welcomed to come and go from the theatre, the houselights stay on at a low level, and loud sound and lighting cues are dimmed slightly. Sometimes patrons are welcomed to bring their own food to the theatre.
As per established Best Practices, a team of one or two auditors (at least one of whom is from one of the communities RP are intended to serve) will come to your space and audit the surrounding areas, the building itself, and, of course, the event. They may also audit your website and any promotional materials you are offering for the event.
After the initial assessment, they will prepare a report (formally or informally) and offer suggestions about how to best provide for RP using communities.
In the event that a person from an RP using community is not available for the full audit, a consultant will be hired to assess things once your practices are in place. While of course one person will not be able to speak to everyone's needs, consulting with the Community is an intrinsic part of my work and general philosophy:
Nothing About Us Without Us.
Canadian Association of Theatre Research (CATR)
Audio Description Association (ADA, UK)
The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA)
Ontario College of Teachers (OCT)
Access Activator Core Group (2020)
Credits: Relaxed Performance
I have over 25 years of teaching experience, Ontario College of Teachers certified and have been working in diverse classrooms with the Toronto District School Board since 2001. About 10 years ago I started teaching almost exclusively in Intensive Support Programs, mostly serving young people who are on the Autism Spectrum, and/ or with cognitive/ developmental disabilities.
Flying Hearts 2019, Pilot Project: "Relaxed Audio Description" (R.A.D.!) for Relaxed Performances. A grant allowed the 2019 incarnation of RAD to be fully realised. I wrote and recorded RAD and hired two young consultants (one on who has Autism and one partially sighted), got feedback made adjustments and re-recorded. The Flying Hearts team took the show (and RAD) to several festivals across Ontario. Though the basic philosophies of AD are different than RAD, for my young low vision consultant, the RAD still enhanced her experience.
I Call Myself Princess, informal consultation about relaxing the performance and what aspects of the show may need to be addressed.
Flying Hearts 2018, Pilot Project: "Relaxed Audio Description" (R.A.D.!) for Relaxed Performances.
Kat has been encouraging and advocating for the hiring of consultants from the communities RP serves since theatres began developing their RP practices several years ago.
Bachelor of Arts, Theatre, Acadia University
Bachelor of Education, York University
Special Education (Additional Qualifications), Queen’s University
Primary Education (Additional Qualifications), Queen’s University
Access Activator Training (Training to train others to offer Relaxed Performances), British Council, Tangled Arts + Disability
Making Accessible Media: Accessible Design in Digital Media, Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
Accessibility to the Scenic Arts, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona via Coursera
Interdisciplinary Theatre Creation Masterclass: Equity Showcase - Josette Bushell-Mingo (UK)
Interdisciplinary Theatre Creation: Back to Back Theatre (Australia) - Bruce Gladwin and Co.
Working Together: The Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Ontario Human Rights Commission
AODA for Educators
Additional AODA Certifications: Workplace & Wellbeing, Customer Service Standard, General Awareness, Employment Standard, Design of Public Spaces Standard, Transportation Standard, AODA for Customer Service
Additional Training & Professional Development
Foundations of Children & Youth Mental Health and Well-Being
Students with a Hearing Loss: Info for Classroom Teachers (Hearing Aid version)
Students with a Hearing Loss: Info for Classroom Teachers (Cochlear Implant Version)
Health & Safety Awareness at Work (Workers)
Dealing with Abuse & Neglect of Students
Life Threatening Allergies (Sabrina’s Law)
Making Schools Safe for LGBT Students for Teachers
Special Education: Safety in the Classroom for Teachers
Youth Suicide: Awareness & Prevention