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Theatres urged to hold more ‘parent with baby’ performances after Royal Court trial

Parents with babies will be welcome to attend a performance at the Royal Court, London, later this month. Photo: Abby Warren Parents with babies attended a performance at the Royal Court, London. Photo: Abby Warren
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Campaigners have called for more theatres to stage relaxed performances for parents and babies, following a successful trial at London’s Royal Court.

The London venue hosted a performance of Linda on December 19, at which parents were allowed to bring children under the age of one into the auditorium.

According to the Royal Court, 20% of bookers bought tickets so they could bring their babies along.

Campaign group Parents in Performing Arts said the performance had been a “great experience” and estimated that there were around 16 babies in the theatre for the show.

Anna Ehnold-Danailov, co-founder of PIPA, attended the show, where parents were invited to sit in the dress circle for the matinee performance.

She said most of those who attended were couples and that both the show’s cast and general audience members responded well to having young children in the theatre.

“I assumed it was going to be a lot of mums with their babies, but actually it was couples, which was really nice to see,” she said, adding that this meant the theatre benefited too.

She added that designating an area for the parents worked well, because it allowed the parents to leave their seats if necessary.

“The parents were grateful this opportunity existed and didn’t mind missing five minutes to feed their child or find a dummy. Seeing a little less is better than not seeing it at all,” she said.

Ehnold-Danailov said that she had to get used to the additional noise in the auditorium , but said: “Once you did, it was just like background noise and you zoned into the play.”

She also said she had spoken with the show’s cast members, who told her having children in the audience had not affected them.

“They had some training beforehand so they knew what was going to happen. They said they were aware of the noise but that they made it a part of what they were doing on stage,” she explained.

However, Ehnold-Danailov claimed there could have been better signposting for people who were buying tickets on the day, as they would not necessarily have realised the performance was a relaxed one.

This week, the Old Vic Theatre in London also invited parents with babies under the age of 18 months to watch a relaxed performance of The Lorax on December 21.

Ehnold-Danailov urged more theatres to hold performances like this, and said: “It would be great if more theatres made it a regular thing, and that at least one performance was available to parents with children under the age of one.”

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