Box Office: 01902 321 321

Accessible Information

The Arena Theatre prides itself on being at the forefront of accessible theatre and technology.

Below is a list of what we offer in terms of our access provision and equipment, and also how you can book onto this provision and book out this equipment.

Audio Described Performances

Audio Described performances give blind and partially sighted people a live commentary about the action happening on the stage through a headset or electronic device.

Often the audio description is made up of three essential elements: a description of the set, costumes and characters. These are normally part of the “introductory notes” which take place around 10 minutes before the show.

The second step of the experience is a touch tour, which takes place around 30-60 minutes before the show and lasts for around 15-20 minutes. A Touch Tour gives blind or partially sighted people an opportunity to explore the set and props in order to gain a clearer picture of the show.

The final step is the descriptions of the visual elements of the performance. The actions, reactions, location changes, and any visual effects (lighting, smoke, dry ice). This happens live as the performance happens. Some audio description is pre-recorded, but this is a rarity.

The Arena Theatre has three options for you to experience Audio description.

  • Use our inferred system with an earing loop (An older system)
  • Radio system, using the Halo headset.
  • Sennheiser’s Mobile connect, which can be used with any smart device and headphones.

On the evening of performances, the Duty Front of House Manager will have audio description headsets available for you to pick up and use.

British Sign Language (BSL) Performances

BSL - or signed performances - are for D/deaf and hearing-impaired people who want to experience theatre.

Signed performances give D/deaf and hearing-impaired people a live interpretation of the words spoken on stage by the actor(s).

A trained BSL interpreter - usually standing to one side of the stage and clearly lit - interprets the words and language used by the performers at the same time it is being performed.

We recommend our D/deaf and Hearing-impaired patrons sit a little closer to the stage to get a good view of the interpreter. Please ensure you tell our box office staff you are booking to use the interpreter and they will seat you appropriately.

Integrated British Sign Language (BSL) performances

Integrated BSL performances are for D/deaf and Hearing-Impaired people who want to experience live theatre.

Integrated BSL is when the BSL is executed by the actors on stage. There is no interpreter at the side, and instead one or all of the actors on stage sign as they perform.

The language is a part of the show. In the same way as the spoken word, or the movement, it is often developed from the start of the creative process and plays an integral part of the show.

Captioning at the Arena Theatre

Captioning is for D/deaf and Hearing-impaired audience members, or anyone who may require extra support for spoken word.

Captioning translates spoken words into text. This text is often projected on to a screen at the back or side of the stage, or screens will be mounted or fitted around the stage area. The words appear on those screens at the same time as they are sung or spoken.

Captioning can also be used on personal devices, if using specific equipment or if you have certain apps downloaded.

To caption a live show, a trained captioner or technician will edit a script into a captioning programme on a computer. Once a script is converted, the Captioner or technician will make notes on a personal script, which allows them time to edit and create a list of cues (a cue is a word, or physical change, that indicates when the next instruction, should happen) When captioning a live show, a technician will control the timings of each caption, they will press a button on the computer to make the words appear on screen as the actor is saying them.

Captioning is a great for anyone who finds it difficult to hear the actors speaking, needs to see people’s faces to follow a conversation, struggles with certain voices, accents or styles of speaking or speaks a completely different language.

Relaxed Performances at the Arena Theatre

A relaxed performance is a means of making the arts more accessible to those with autism, sensory or communicational needs. They are also useful to parents with babies and anyone else who prefers a more peaceful and laid back theatre environment.

Relaxed performances are exactly what they say, it is the same performance but with less volume, softer light, and no sudden changes. Relaxed performances are carefully adjusted to reduce anxiety and stress for those who might find the experience unsettling or difficult.

Moving around the auditorium during the performance and noise is welcomed during a relaxed performance. The idea is that everyone can express themselves however they choose.

Audience members are always free to come in and out of the performances as they please and also have the option to go to a quiet space if they would like to. 

Relaxed performances help to remove barriers, so that everyone can experience the enjoyment and magic of theatre. Relaxed theatre is about making the theatre welcoming and inclusive for all. 

Dementia Friendly Performances at the Arena Theatre

Dementia friendly performances are a means of making the arts more accessible to those living with dementia, or those in the early stages of onset dementia.

Dementia friendly performances are very similar to relaxed performances, they are tailored for people with dementia and their families or carers but can be enjoyed by everyone.

Like relaxed performances, dementia friendly performances avoid using performance elements that might shock, startle or unnerve anyone in the audience. The main theatre lights often remain on low with a reduction in flashing and bright lights, and loud noises and music will play at a lower volume. There is also a quiet space for people to go to if they are feeling overwhelmed.

Clear dementia friendly signage and information is up around the theatre and our foyer space to help people identify where they are, when they are, and offer a comfortable and supportive environment.

Equipment at the Arena Theatre

In our bid to make sure that everyone can enjoy theatre, we offer a range of equipment that might make your time with us a little more comfortable.

Below is a list of equipment that might assist you.

Audio Description Equipment

  • Sennheiser infrared Enhanced Hearing Loop
  • Halo Headsets.

Parents, Babies and Children

  • Ear defenders (6 months +)
  • Booster seats

Sensory bag

We currently have ten sensory bags available. These bags contain:

  • Sand timers
  • Ear defenders
  • Fidget toys
  • Visual guides

If you would like to borrow any of the equipment, please speak to the Box Office at your earliest convenience.

If you have a requirement that we currently don’t cater for please contact