At the core of the PuSh Festival’s values are engagement, inclusion and accessibility, providing transformative performing arts experiences to as many audiences as possible. They seek to break down the barriers — whether physical, social, financial or otherwise — to experiencing live performing arts. Relaxed Performances cater to people with light and sound sensitivity, autism, neurological disorders and anxiety with the goal of creating a comfortable and fun theatre experience for people with diverse abilities. The houselights remain half-lit and there are no sudden blackouts or loud sounds throughout the entire performance. Individuals with special needs planning on going to a Relaxed Performance can go on the PuSH Festival website to receive a “Visual Story”.

For individuals with autism and anxiety who want to know just what to expect, the visual story has information in pictures and words about both the venue and the performance. This includes pictures and names of the artist in it. The PuSh Festival offers VocalEye described performances for those with low vision and blindness at reduced ticket prices. Specially trained PuSh volunteers are available to assist blind and visually impaired patrons with getting to venues and attending shows. Sighted guides can meet patrons at nearby public transit stops and guide them to and from the theatre. If you require a guide, please make your request 72 hours in advance.

Unlike other theatre shows, the normal etiquette or rules of theatre don’t apply. In other words, people are not expected to sit still and be quiet. Those who need to move around are welcome to do so, and it’s okay to sing along or react to what is happening on the stage.

“Backstage in Biscuit Land”, created and performed by Jess Thom, an artist with Tourette Syndrome from the UK, will be the PuSH Festival’s first Relaxed Performance and for this show, every performance will be relaxed! This 60-minute show will run from January 30-February 1 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre. For more information, please click here. To see the list of the full program calendar, please click here.