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?
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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 haKat has over 25 years of teaching experience, is Ontario College of Teachers certified and has worked in diverse classrooms with the Toronto District School Board since 2001. She teaches almost exclusively in Intensive Support Programs for children who are neurodiverse. She was a Core Advisor for Picasso Pro and has supported/ facilitated workshops with artists who were Deaf or have disabilities since 2006. She is currently the Access Advisor for the Wee Festival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years and trained as an Access Activator in 2020.
Kat developed a Pilot Project: Relaxed Audio Description (R.A.D.!) for Relaxed Performances (RP). Kat wrote and recorded the RAD for the production Flying Hearts (2019) and hired two young consultants (one with Autism and one partially sighted). The Flying Hearts team took the show (and RAD) to several festivals across Ontario.
Kat has been encouraging and advocating for the hiring of consultants and partners from the communities RP serves since organisations began offering the service: “Nothing About Us, Without Us”.
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