It was a full house last Saturday afternoon at the MAC Theatre in Belfast for a particular show which will be of interest to many parents.
Pinocchio was the attraction and excitement was building. But this was an afternoon with a difference because this was a special performance. The children’s theatre company, Cahoots NI, were giving one of their ‘relaxed’ performances especially designed to entertain those with sensory communications disorders, a learning disability, with Down’s or Autism spectrum. Before these show begin, the cast introduce themselves to the audience, some put on their costumes to show they are actors playing a part not a scary character or creature. Sean Cairns, who plays the baddy, introduces the members of the band who each play their instrument and then romp into the loudest number from the show so when it comes to showtime no one will be surprised or frightened. House lights are at 50% of their normal brightness and sound is also controlled so everyone feels they are in a safe environment and can enjoy the theatre experience. At these shows, some young people like to get up and walk around and that’s ok too.
As well as these relaxed performances, specially trained MAC staff travel to special schools across Northern Ireland with ‘Theatre in the Box’, a model showing the layout of the theatre, eliminating the scary elements, for instance the dark tunnel that leads to the auditorium, all to help children understand what to expect when they visit the MAC for the first time.
These shows are only bookable by phone so the format can be explained before bookings are made.
There is another relaxed performance, signed and with audio description at 6 p.m. on 18th December.
For details of performances visit www.themaclive.com : Box office 028 90 235053