Autism-friendly panto performance at the Hawth is another huge success

The team behind this year’s panto put on a relaxed performance for people which include, but aren’t exclusive to, Autism, ADHD, Dementia, Tourette’s, Cris du Chat and Down’s Syndrome.

This year was the return of Cinderella and the cast put on an adapted performance (January 2) to allow audience members, requiring these adjustments, the opportunity to enjoy the panto with their family, friends and/or carers.

A Relaxed Performance mirrors the ‘regular’ performance of a show, but with minor modifications.

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Lee and Maria Cook, organisers of the event

The idea for Relaxed Performances at The Hawth was created by Maria Cook, Chairperson of Autism Support Crawley, Dave Whatmore, General Manager at The Hawth and Paul Hendy, Producer at Evolution Pantomimes.

It has been running ever since.

The event is organised by The Relaxed Performance Campaign and Autism Support Crawley.

Autism Support Crawley is a charity supporting parent/carers and carers of someone with Autism and/or Social Communication Difficulties, with or without a diagnosis.

Families enjoyed the event

The night was another success and it was enjoyed by all who attended.

Michael Batchelor, who played Aldianna in this year’s Cinderella panto said: “The relaxed performance has a special atmosphere.

“It’s so good to see the reactions of children and adults who wouldn’t normally be able to see the show and, even more importantly, with their family and/or carers, which at Christmas is what it’s all about!”

Senior Duty Manager Lorraine Stroud said: “Pantomime is such a wonderful experience and for so many families it is very much a Christmas tradition.

The performance of Cinderella

“For us to adapt the performance so it is a magical experience for those with Autism. ADHD, Dementia and so many other sensory and hidden difficulties is just amazing.

“It means pantomime and other shows of course, become accessible to families and individuals who otherwise would not be able to attend.

Sam Champion said: “It was amazing, just gets better and better each year. Brandon really enjoys it too and feels safe to be himself there.”

Georgina James said: “It was really good, it’s nice to feel comfortable in an atmosphere knowing that if the situation becomes too much you can leave and freely walk in and out.

“As a mum of a child with learning delay and Autism when meltdowns happen or random screaming it can make you feel uncomfortable, but knowing that everyone in the room knows and understands makes it so much easier.

“It worked really well for us.”

If you would like to know more about relaxed performances or want to support Autism Support Crawley, please visit: https://autismsupportcrawley.co.uk/