I like to describe The Duck as a ‘Considerate Performance’. We often hear of ‘Relaxed Performances’, and these are great for many people, but they can cause problems for those of us with additional sensory issues. They are also often loosely defined as ‘Relaxed’ with not enough information about what that actually means; should we all lie down? What if I feel tense? What if I don’t know how to relax?!
It can make the un-relaxed (tense?) performances preferable, because at least I know the rules surrounding a tense performance.
‘Relaxed’ can mean that people are free to wander around the room during the show, which those of us unable to block out visual information could find distracting. ‘Relaxed’ can mean people feel free to open their noisy packets of crisps or chat, which for someone who struggles with sounds and odours, could be painful.
‘Relaxed Performances’ are fantastic and open up the theatre to many people who would otherwise not be able to access it, but is ‘Relaxed’ too vague a term, and too broad an idea to enable adult autistic people to watch a performance of an autistic person?
For The Duck, I want things to be as defined as possible so that people know where they stand. To avoid confusion I’m going to give you some rules for a ‘Considerate Performance:-
- Dress code is as formal or informal as you would like. Wear what you feel comfortable in – that can be shorts and sandals or formal-wear. I will love seeing people dressed up as much as I love seeing people in comfort. If you like to dress up, go for it, if not, don’t. There are no pretensions or snobbery here.
- Try to be as considerate of other people’s different sensory needs as you would like them to be of yours.
- Bring silent fidget gadgets if they help (some may be provided too where possible) and feel safe to use them freely. We don’t expect anyone to sit still, but we do ask for consideration for the people around you.
- If you like chatting to strangers, but they don’t respond, then be kind. It’s not personal; some people here would prefer not to chat and expressing that through social niceties can be hard when you’re outside your comfort zone.
- If you have any questions then please ask either the staff or one of Autact Theatre’s members (see below for more information). There are no stupid questions, if you need more information, then please ask. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @autacttheatre and we will get back to you ASAP
- If you need to leave during the performance then you are free to do so. It’s fine to come back again too. You are not trapped in here, and you are not getting in the way of the performance if you need some space
- Above all be considerate and kind
What kind of a space do we want to create during The Duck?
- A space where we want everyone to feel safe to be themselves
- A space where making social communication mistakes is not judged (and that is not aimed at our autistic audience members – miscommunication always takes two)
- A space where stimming (giving yourself positive sensory information to soothe) is perfectly acceptable
- A space where you are safe to ask for more information
- A space that you are safe to leave and return during the play
- A space where we respect other people’s personal space
- A space where everyone is asked to try to be considerate of other people’s sensory needs and to keep unnecessary sound (like opening packets) to a minimum during the performance
We believe that accessibility isn’t always about avoiding difficult situations, it’s about giving people the information they need to make their own choices. Here are some things it might help to know about the play:
- The Duck is 50 minutes long, there is no interval, and in some performances there will be a Q&A straight afterwards for about 10 minutes including the writer, Rhi
- The Duck is a one-woman play so there is only one actor on stage
- There are a couple of times in the play when the character shouts
- There are no sound systems involved, so no feedback or speakers buzzing
- The Duck will show self-injurious behaviour at one point – she is acting and not actually hurting herself
- Towards the end of the performance The Duck will ask one person in the middle of the front row to shake hands. If she chooses you and you don’t want to shake her hand then you don’t have to. Just shake your head instead. There won’t be any direct interaction with anyone else
- There will be no music or other sounds played during the performance
- There will be no strobe lighting
- If you have any worries or questions you would like to ask then you can get in touch at email@example.com or Tweet us @autacttheatre #AutDuck
At the end of the show we will be selling The Duck themed badges on a “Pay What You Feel” basis. All our earnings from the badges go straight into funding more shows and are not for profit. It is absolutely acceptable to only feel like paying fifty pence or whatever you can afford if you would like one. Don’t feel pressured to spend more, but if you do want to help support our theatre company, it is enormously appreciated.
If you are someone who needs to know what actually happens in a play before you see it, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the synopsis of The Duck. If you have any further questions then please do get in touch and we will do our best to help.
Who to look for if you need help
Each venue has a great team of ushers and staff, but if you want to find The Duck’s team, then look no further. We may not all be at every performance, but we are all here to help when we are, you are welcome to ask us anything:
Andy is the easiest of us to recognise. He is 6′ 5″ and has dark hair and a bushy beard with impressive moustache (if you compliment him on his moustache, you will have a friend for life). His height makes him easy to spot in a crowd, so if you’re struggling, head for Andy. He is incredibly nice and is always happy to help (before, after, or even during the show if needed).
Rhi doesn’t have a moustache, but does have moustache-envy. She has a mess of brown curly hair as her identifying feature. She is more than happy to talk to anyone before or after the show, or if you’d rather just give her a wave, she likes that too. Rhi wrote The Duck and will do the intro and Question and Answer session afterwards.
Jo has shoulder length blonde hair and is our Director, she is happy to help anyone before or after the show. She is very friendly and lovely, though not as easy to spot in a crowd as Andy is.
Lucy is our actor who plays, The Duck. She has long, straight dark brown hair, that she ties back for the performance. She is really happy to be approached after the show, but will be a bit busy getting ready and focusing beforehand. Lucy is incredibly nice and loves to hear about how people related to the show.