Saturday, 22 October 2016

Performance for people with learning difficulties at the Belgrade this half term

HighTime in rehearsal for Cinderella

The Belgrade Theatre are collaborating with HighTime to stage a production of Cinderella this half-term, specifically designed to cater for those with learning disabilities. HighTime, the first professional opera company to be based in Coventry, creates exciting new work for people who would never normally go and see an opera. They are working with the theatre to produce the first ever ‘relaxed performance’ to come to the Belgrade.

A relaxed performance is a show where the conditions have been changed to accommodate for those who might find a traditional theatre environment uncomfortable or intimidating. Audience members are issued with information about the theatre and the show in advance so there are no surprises. Some lighting states have been altered, the house lights are left on, noise is welcome and the doors are left open for people to come and go if they need to. The conditions have been developed specifically with autistic and SEND people in mind, although all are welcome.

Artistic Director, Felicity Green was inspired to create this by a young audience member. “Last year, we performed Hansel and Gretel at the Belgrade, an audience member approached me saying they had brought her autistic son to the show to see his brother perform. They had fully expected him to be uninterested in the production, and had brought his iPad and headphones. They were surprised to find him rapt, saying that he couldn’t take his eyes of the performance. We took him backstage to meet the cast and his reaction was one of total awe. It made me think about the power of music and theatre to inspire young people. I want to give the same chance to people who might be more comfortable in a relaxed setting, to reach as many people in Coventry as possible who might not normally attend.”

She continued, “Cinderella is the most fantastic first opera. The characters are hilarious and larger than life and the music is incredibly catchy – the tunes stay in your head for days! We’ve taken the well-loved story and given it a twist – it’s set in Hollywood’s Golden Era! Cinderella is a budding star who is made to run around after her (talentless) diva sisters, and Prince Charming is the screen star of the moment. It’s very glitzy and glamorous take on a classic!”

HighTime was founded in 2014 by Artistic and Executive Directors Felicity Green and Benjamin Hamilton. They aim to fuse sublime music with ambitious theatre, to create extraordinary experiences which truly resonate in the 21st century. The company is part of the Belgrade Theatre’s Springboard Initiative which was set up to support emerging theatre companies and artists by providing training opportunities, office space at the theatre, mentoring and support with communications, fundraising and staging their production or events at the theatre.

The relaxed performance of Cinderella will take place on Friday 28 October at 2.30pm in the Belgrade Theatre’s B2 auditorium. Tickets are available now by calling the Belgrade’s Box Office team on 024 7655 3055 or visit

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