Warhorse by the National Theatre has to be one of the most awe-inspiring productions currently touring the U.K, it’s heartfelt story based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo resonates with each and every one of us in some way, telling the tale of Topthorn; a horse’s life leading up to and through the First World War and the bond between owner and animal throughout with ingenious use of actor operated puppets performing alongside the rest of the cast.
With a story as iconic and relatable as this, it only seems right that this production is available to everyone and thanks to a new relaxed performance initiative at the Lowry, War Horse for the first time in the North West can be watched by a whole new audience who may never have been able to go to the theatre before.
The theatre and the arts are such a magical experience and to some this can seem daunting and inaccessible, so to produce a relaxed performance platform for such a lively production such as Warhorse must have been no easy task.
I sat down with Resident Director; Charlotte Peters to see how these changes would be implemented.
Peters explained in length how the plans for this relaxed performance have not been taken lightly and something The National Theatre felt strongly about delivering a show which did not water down the production.
‘Changes have been made to the way the story is told but that doesn’t mean, that the audience is losing anything from the original show, in fact for everything taken out of the standard production; different features are added in’.
These factors could be small things like replacing live gun fire with sound cues, and although this may seem like the most simplest of changes, these can all add up and Peters and The National Theatre have worked tirelessly to make this production accessible by all working with leading experts to make sure this relaxed show is open to all.
To anyone who’s not familiar with a relaxed performance; it is just that - it’s more laid back; and well relaxed.
The auditorium doors are open at the rear for people to come and go as they feel in case people want to take a break, there’s visual storyboards given out to the audience beforehand so there is nothing unexpected and the house lights remain on at around 30% power so people can see where they are and see their surroundings throughout.
Another benefit to the relaxed show which helps to ease the audience in is the way one of the 10 Stone puppets is introduced to the audience before the show starts, this immediately reassures audience members and with a relaxed performance, this initial breaking of the ice can prove vital to the audiences enjoyment for the rest of the show.
I think it’s fantastic that this spellbinding production has been opened up to all that is to Peters and the Lowry which means everyone including those with dementia and individuals on the autistic spectrum can experience the true magic of seeing War Horse live on stage.
Tickets can be purchased directly from the Lowry’s Access line on 0161 876 2183. https://www.thelowry.com/events/relaxed-performances