How a radical form of accessibility is pushing the boundaries of theatre performance

Dr. Carla Rice and Kayla Besse’s latest on Relaxed Performance in The Conversation Canada. Read it in full here.

Image description: a photo of Erin Ball performing at Cripping the Arts. Over the photo in white text, it says “Radical accessibility pushes boundaries of theatre
Carla Rice, University of Guelph and Kayla Besse, University of Guelph

Have you ever been nervous about going to the theatre?
Maybe you’re unfamiliar with theatre etiquette, maybe you have children or maybe you find it hard to stay still for hours feeling trapped in your seat. In Shakespeare’s day, theatregoers drank, ate and socialized their way through performance.

There is a more generous way to engage with the arts, and related to this, much to learn from disability arts in particular.

Let bodies be bodies
Relaxed performance — an approach to performance that challenges what have developed as strict expectations and codes for audience and performer engagement and behaviour — is making theatre and other types of live performance like fashion shows and musical events more accessible.

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Exploring Accessibility in the Canadian Theatre Landscape

Cover image of report with woman performing on a wheelchair

We’re so excited that the Relaxed Performance report we wrote in collaboration with British Council Canada is now out in the world!

Relaxed Performance (RP) is an accessibility practice which “invites bodies to be bodies” in theatre spaces, including in their movement and vocalizations. RP also involves technical modifications, which were introduced in RP training sessions across Canada over the past several years.

The report was written by Andrea LaMarre, Carla Rice, and Kayla Besse.

Click here for the report.

Image description: the cover image of the “Relaxed Performance: Exploring Accessibility in the Canadian Theatre Landscape” report. The background is black, and the text is white. The British Council and BIT logos are at the top. The photo is of Erin Ball, a performer with prosthetic legs, balancing on her hands on top of a wheelchair. She has tattoos on her arms, and is wearing a black body suit and looking directly at the camera.