Autism-Friendly War Horse Show

On Thursday 28th June at 2pm, Manchester based theatre, The Lowry and the National Theatre will stage a ‘relaxed’ performance of the hit show, War Horse for for anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment in the theatre, including people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, people with sensory and communication disorders, and those with learning disabilities.

The heart-warming tale of Albert Narracott, his beloved horse Joey and their extraordinary journey through the First World War is returning to The Lowry in June.Around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Together with their families, this means autism is a part of daily life for around 2.8 million people. Relaxed Performances enable everyone to have access to theatre and stories such as War Horse. At the relaxed performance the show’s lighting and sound levels will be adjusted to soften their impact and there is a relaxed attitude to noise within the auditorium during the performance. The house lights will remain on throughout and the entrances and exits to the theatre will be left open. These changes seek to reduce anxiety or stress for audience members – and chill out areas will be created in the foyer for audience members who want a time out from the performance.

Many people with autism experience anxiety in new situations or environments so a visual story, available to audiences prior to the performance so they can familiarise themselves with the story of War Horse and the theatre environment, has been developed to help prepare the audience for their visit.

Ros Hayes, head of access at the National Theatre said:
“We want to provide an opportunity for everybody to enjoy a visit to the theatre, as a family together or with friends. We want to create a welcoming, stress-free environment and our directors, designers and technical teams have worked really hard to achieve that. We’re looking forward to working with The Lowry on this Relaxed Performance of War Horse and to welcoming all audiences in to the theatre to experience this show.”

Julia Fawcett OBE, chief executive of The Lowry, said:
“Relaxed performances are one of the ways The Lowry and our artistic partners seek to welcome anyone who may find the usual theatre environment a challenge. War Horse is one of the most popular shows in The Lowry’s history, with two record-breaking runs to its name. We’re delighted to be welcoming ‘Joey’ and the rest of the cast and crew back a third time – and are proud to be hosting this relaxed performance for our patrons.”

War Horse, which has been seen by over seven million people worldwide, tells a remarkable story of courage, loyalty and friendship, about a young boy called Albert and his horse Joey, set against the backdrop of the First World War is the most successful play in the National Theatre’s history. It features ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which brings breathing, galloping horses to life on stage.

There are no age restrictions, however this performance has been designed to be suitable with audiences aged 10 +. The performance has adult themes and content, including war and death and has moments of high tension and battle scenes.

Photos by Birgit & Ralf Brinkhoff