Hip Hip hooray! This year the pantomimes are back with a bang, filling theatres around the country with fun and laughter once more as we wave a very welcome goodbye to all the restrictions and closures of last year.

Many of the theatres are showing their postponed productions so if you missed out last year, now is the time to plan your Christmas visit!

There are definitely signs that theatres are thinking about the experience of people with dementia and making their shows much more accessible. Some productions now have specific dementia friendly events – such as Beauty and the Beast at the Nottingham Playhouse, Cinderella at the Waterfront, Belfast and Jack and the Beanstalk at the Courtyard Theatre, Hereford.

These performances are carefully tailored for people living with dementia and their families or carers so that everyone can enjoy the show in an environment that is comfortable and supportive.

Here are some of the ways the show may be adapted for a dementia friendly performance:

  • The volume of music will be reduced when dialogue is taking place.
  • There will be a very relaxed attitude to moving around the theatre and making noise.
  • Changing seats during the performance is fine and so is leaving the performance and re-entering.
  • There will be additional signage with pictures in the foyer.
  • There will be a quiet room available before, during and after the show.
  • There will be more staff on hand to offer help and support.

If your local theatre doesn’t have a specific dementia friendly showing, they may well have a relaxed performance which usually has many of the same adaptations, with more staff and an overall relaxed attitude to the usual audience expectations. These performances help ensure that all members of the family are still able to enjoy the festive tradition of a pantomime trip. They may also have specially trained front of house staff, like the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh which will be putting on Sleeping Beauty this Christmas.

Should you be feeling unsure about venturing out, do call your local theatre to see if they have any measures in place that might help ease your visit and find out about any adapted performances they may be offering this year. The Dementia Network has found these relaxed performances dotted around the country, Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal Norwich, Cinderella at the Sands Centre, Carlisle, Aladdin at the Plymouth Theatre Royal, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at Swansea Grand Theatre and Aladdin at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester. If there’s one you know of and it’s not listed above, please do get in touch and let us know about it! We will happily add it to our growing events page so that others can find it too!

If you can’t make the relaxed performances or are still not keen to be out and about with lots of other people around, then there are still some performances taking place online, allowing you to watch the show whenever it’s convenient to you. Check out your local theatre to see whether they are streaming their pantomime this year, or try Peter Pan live, a purely online production available from Tuesday 14th December to Sunday 26th.