Guide to accessible theatres in London

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Aminah Barnes

Aminah Barnes

No other city in the UK matches London’s rich and illustrious relationship with theatre. It houses over 230 theatres and the world-famous West End district, drawing in crowds on every night of the week. But as London leads the way in theatre, the capital city must also capitalise on the movement towards making theatre accessible for all.

In the last few years, UK venues across the spectrum of performing arts have started to pay attention to accessibility. From concert halls to cinemas, many improvements to facilities, programming and resources have been made to promote access to more people. And with accelerating technology, the theatre world is also answering the call. New inventions –  such as captioned glasses and hearing systems – help remove some restrictions. But more needs to be done…

Jump to: West End Theatres: Prince Edward Theatre | Savoy Theatre | Apollo Victoria | Trafalgar Studios | Royal Opera House | Victoria Palace Theatre

Off West End Theatres: Bridge Theatre | Barbican Theatre | Lyric Hammersmith | Polka Theatre | Roundhouse | Shakespeare’s Globe | Theatre Royal Stratford East | Chickenshed | National Theatre | Kiln Theatre & Cinema


Accessibility issues in London theatres

London’s theatre’s face a unique challenge. Many were created in the Matcham, Wren and Sprague eras. They’re exquisite and ornate and represent the architecture of the early 1900s. Now over a century old, the venues are part of London’s history and many are listed buildings. However, in preserving their heritage, accessibility is somewhat sacrificed.

It’s not just London’s buildings that make a theatre more accessible. More venues are leveraging their programming with captioned, signed, and relaxed shows, but sadly there are still many don’t.

Often, it is the bigger promoters that organise touring shows taking it out of the hands of the venue. Disney is an example of a production company that promotes accessible performances, but not all producers do.

Aladdin is one of Disneys productions in London.

An area often overlooked by theatres is their website, which proves an essential tool for access. VocalEyes point out that theatre experiences usually begin with the customer researching and booking tickets online. Therefore, if the venue’s website is inaccessible or lacks the necessary tools and information, disabled users may feel excluded.

Likewise, the 2018 Access Survey from Euan’s Guide also presents the need for more attention from venues. 94% of participants attempt to find disabled access information about a venue before visiting, while 88% claim they are more likely to visit somewhere new if they find access information about it beforehand.

Reports and findings

Studies show that there appears to be lack of understanding of some accessibility issues by venues.

Signed Culture help put the views of Deaf people across, hoping to bridge the gap between venue and user. Director Stephen Hawkins clarifies with the example that many venues produce captioned performances, without realising that for many Deaf patrons, English is actually their second language. It has a different syntax and grammar. Statistics show a split preference between captioned and BSL performances, suggesting theatres should have both.

Signed Culture's Survey: Improving the Way BSL Users Experience Arts & Culture March 2018
Signed Culture’s Survey: Improving the Way BSL Users Experience Arts & Culture March 2018

He continues to explain how it can sometimes be difficult to make performances and programming fully accessible. To achieve this, performances would need to be in BSL rather than interpreted. However, this is not practical for the majority of performances. Also, the BSL interpreted performances do still give the Deaf community access to the rich heritage of theatre.

When it comes to theatres, Euan’s Guide’s Access Survey showed that they rate higher than music venues, hotels and leisure facilities. However, only 11% rate excellent, 40% good and 26% average.

VocalEyes’ 2017 report surveyed London’s theatres to evaluate their accessibility, finding only a third of theatres provide captioned and audio-described performances. Even less offer signed or relaxed showings. On a whole, London’s theatres scored 1.9 out of 4 for accessibility. However, they ranked just above the UK average at 78% for online information about access.

Towards Accessible Theatre in London

Making the step towards accessibility is also in the interest of venues. Euan’s Guide reports that 82% of disabled patrons would tell others about their experience of visiting a venue with good accessibility. And 87% would make a return visit.

The bustling city also has plenty of organisations helping to boost accessibility in London’s theatres. Hannah Gagen of SOLT (Society of London Theatre) describes how their newly-introduced D/deaf and Disabled Access training courses help inform the workforce of theatres. They’re also helping to boost the number of assisted performances across SOLT’s member venues. SOLT also help inform an accessibility guide for information on organisations, available in different formats. Others, like AccessAble, send teams of surveyors to check accessible information on venues and report back to the user community.

Hawkins does suggest two key ways venues can be more effective at being inclusive. One is to create a focus group for disabled users to get their feedback on the venue, performance and theatre experience. Another, specifically aimed at those looking for BSL performances, is to state in advance who the interpreter of performances. This allows users to make an informed decision about the show, as the quality of interpretation is essential to their visit. Ultimately, putting the user at the forefront of theatre accessibility is fundamental.

With accessibility making waves in the theatre industry, figures will likely show more promising results in the years to come…For now, TickX has compiled a list of some of London’s accessible theatres to date. The list combines findings from the VocalEyes report and recommendations from AccessAble, Euan’s Guide and other organisations.

Scroll down to find some of London’s most accessible theatres…


Accessible theatres in London’s West End

Prince Edward Theatre

Prince Edward Theatre london is accessible

The theatre is one of Delfont Mackintosh’s, and sits just north of Leicester Square. It’s the site of the immortal ‘bananas dance’ by Josephine Baker, but in more recent years has been the home of Disney’s Aladdin and Mary Poppins musicals. As a venue that hosts incredibly popular shows, it’s important the London theatre is as accessible as possible. There is a side entrance for wheelchair users and a bar located at they foyer level.

Access information is easy to navigate to from Prince Edward Theatre’s website. They state the upcoming accessible performances and outline information related to the physical building clearly. One of the most significant parts of the venue’s accessibility is the Social Story. Delfont Mackintosh allow people to observe the Prince Edward theatre in this video, exploring the facilities in advance. It was developed particularly with autistic visitors in mind who may find social situations difficult. The social story helps to prepare them for the visit before hand.

  • Captioned performances
  • BSL performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • Autism-Friendly performances
  • Touch tours available for Aladdin
  • Step free side street access

Savoy Theatre

Savoy Theatre in London's West End

Shining and shimmering, the golden Savoy Theatre rests on The Strand in London’s theatre district. It boasts an elaborate Art Deco design, decked with red and gold furnishings for an opulent feel. As the former home of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company for over two decades, the Savoy retains is grandeur for theatre-goers today. It’s currently staging the ultimate feel good show with a score by Dolly Parton – ‘9 to 5 the Musical’.

Under the ownership of ATG, accessibility is also overseen by the theatre group. Via ATG’s website, there is a fairly detailed guide about the London theatre’s accessibility. It provides an easy-to-read chart to assist with booking the right seats based upon needs (visual and hearing impairments, limited mobility and wheelchair users). Also, the guide tailors information about the building facilities, what to expect on arrival and accessible features for specific needs. Furthermore, ATG’s website includes a downloadable Social Story.

On the Savoy Theatre’s website, there are descriptions of their accessible performances. These include information such as where the interpreter is positioned, where dialogue and songs are displayed on screens, etc.

  • Captioned performances
  • BSL performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • Infrared Loop system (connect to hearing aids)
  • Headsets (magnifies sound on stage)
  • Step free street access
  • Step free access toilet
  • Sub/Sur Titled shows
  • Relaxed performances
  • Touch Tours
  • Access Host on arrival (optional)

Apollo Victoria

Auditorium of Apollo Victoria in London

Another Art Deco design, the Apollo Victoria theatre is like a ‘mermaid’s dream of Heaven’. Bright pink lights, sea green carpets and silver organ pipes make the Apollo a magical underwater world. Despite being a cinema at the time of opening, the Apollo is now a top West End theatre, showing musicals such as The Sound of Music, Saturday Night Fever and currently the sensational Wicked.

The London theatre scores positive reviews on Euan’s Guide – currently ranking 4 out of 5 stars for accessibility. The most popular remarks surrounded the staff at the Apollo Victoria, who were praised as ‘very attentive and welcoming’ and treating guests ‘like royalty’. The venue has some challenges in regards to its entrance being a few steps up, but this was seemingly overcome by helpful employees. The ATG also offer a Visual Story on request for the Victoria, alongside documents outlining production information that may impact epilepsy or seizures.

  • Captioned performances
  • BSL performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Touch Tours
  • Audio Described performances
  • Large Print/Braille programmes available
  • Access Host on arrival (optional)
  • Sennheiser MobileConnect WiFi sound amplification system (connects quality audio to smart device)
  • Induction Loop Necklace
  • Headset

Trafalgar Studios

Outside of Trafalgar Studios

Though part of the endless list of theatres around the West End, Trafalgar Studios stands apart from the rest. It doesn’t host the big-scale Broadway musicals, but rather a collection of interesting and diverse plays and shows. It’s no wonder The Daily Telegraph describe it as ‘A revolution’ for the district, as it unites talented actors and fresh new playwrights. Formerly, Lee Evans, Alan Cumming and Nicolas Hoult have taken to its stage.

Also standing out among London’s theatres,  Trafalgar Studios aims to be highly accessible. It has level access from the street, with the foyer, foyer bar and box office on the same level. The theatre’s website has detailed information relating to number of steps and how to access each part of the venue. There’s also a visual story to help prepare and familiarise new visitors.

Furthermore, the information on Euan’s Guide claims to have at least one access host available. There’s also a member of the Box Office with Level 2/3 BSL.

  • Induction Loop Necklace
  • Headset
  • Mobile Connect and Radio Enhancement System
  • Captioned performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • BSL performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Touch tours
  • Braille/ large print cast lists available

Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House in Covent Garden

Home to the Royal Ballet, Royal Opera and the Royal Opera House Orchestra, the venue is one of the city’s most prestigious. It’s a prominent feature of the luxurious Covent Garden, complete with the stunning Amphitheatre Restaurant and Terrace. It’s an elegant building for an uber class night out, but it’s also the best place to catch diverse operas. From new comedies to passionate classics, it’s great for both first-time opera-goers as well as lifetime fans of the discipline. The programme is also infused with ballet and other dance performances.

Though the ROH is a longstanding venue of the city and part of London’s history, it’s also fairly accessible. Thanks to modern updates and renovation projects, such as the Open Up, the ROH has better ground floor spaces. There’s step free access around the building – including to their eateries, as well as accessible toilets and wheelchair hire.

On the website, each area has a dedicated access page, allowing visitors to fully explore the venue. It also details information related to booking, getting to the venue and attending a performance.

“At the heart of Accessibility at the Royal Opera House is a highly effective system for communicating the individual access requirements of customers to our front of house staff, ensuring that from the point of booking we know what the customer requirements are and that they are met as a priority. This is a practical and personalised system, which works well due to access requirements differing in each case.

“Following the success of Open Up, the Royal Opera House has been transformed, becoming a major visitor destination with two theatres – a wonderful space for thousands to visit weekly. This offer has accessibility at its heart and we prioritise all access visitors and bookers.” 

Colin Legge, Access Coordinator at ROH
  • Trantec Radio System
  • Captioned performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • BSL performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Touch tours
  • Large print information available
  • Accessible toilets on all floors
  • Lift access to all floors

Victoria Palace Theatre

Victoria Palace Theatre in London

A tourist’s dream, the Victoria Palace rests close to the Westminster Cathedral. It’s a Frank Matcham product, meaning that its unique and iconic architecture add to theatre’s prestige. Among its many claims to fame, the Victoria witnessed the London theatre debut of Elizabeth Taylor and the opening of the Olivier Award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical. Today, it shows the record-breaking musical masterpiece by Lin-Manuel Miranda Hamilton

As with the Prince Edward, Delfont Mackintosh have also created another social story for the Victoria Palace Theatre to assist autistic visitors. There is also an Access Host on site, dedicated to helping people with access needs upon arrival. When visiting Hamilton, blogger Nina Grant praised the Access Host. Her Access Review of Victoria Palace Theatre highlighted some access issues, however Nina claims that Delfont Mackintosh were quick to respond and rectify issues.

“After my experience at the Victoria Palace Theatre, they did assure me that things had changed based on my recommendations (including a wedge for the wheelchair space and a different kind of door for the toilet so it didn’t open inwards and reduce space), and from what I’ve heard from other wheelchair using friends who’ve been to see Hamilton since, it seems to have improved.

The problem with a lot of old theatres is the layout, which they can’t help as there’s so little space to work with. We often have to roll directly from a side-street door into the stalls, even in larger non-West End theatres. What they can help with is where they position the wheelchair spaces (the Victoria Palace moved them back several rows in the re-fit) and how they assist their disabled patrons.” 

Nina Grant, Blogger of brainkittens
  • Sennheiser Infrared Enhanced Hearing headsets
  • Captioned performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • BSL performances
  • Step free side street access

Off West End accessible theatres

Bridge Theatre

Bridge Theatre in London is committed to accessibility.

Whether you like a classic or brand new show, Bridge Theatre’s programme will no doubt excite. The new venue sits close to the banks of the Thames near the Tower Bridge – hence the name. According the London Theatre, The Bridge is the biggest commercial theatre in the city outside of the West End, and the first to be built in central London since 1973. It holds the expertise of founders Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr who worked together for over 10 years at the National Theatre.

Beyond offering captioned and audio described performances, Bridge Theatre also targets young people with autism. Their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream observes actors inviting participants with autism to unravel the timeless tale, using sensory games. Other accessible features include level access from the front entrance on the street to the foyer and wheelchair hire and hearing aids available while visiting. The theatre also has an Access List, which theatre-goers can use to book tickets and communicate specific access needs.

In respect to VocalEyes report and importance of a venue’s online booking system, the London theatre also has an accessible website. It conforms with W3C accessibility guidelines for level AA compliance.

  • Captioned performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • Access List for communicating needs
  • Street level access
  • Wheelchair hire
  • Accessible website

Barbican Theatre

Barbican arts centre contains one of London's most accessible theatres.

The venue is a multidisciplinary arts venue complete with theatres, cinemas, art galleries, a library, a conservatory and a concert hall. It’s one of London’s prominent performing art centres, housing the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Barbican, which sits in the Barbican Estate, was opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1982, and became a listed building in 2001 due to its magnitude.

The Barbican’s website has lots of information surrounding accessibility, including guides, maps, facilities, events and membership. There is a video that shows visitors the building, covering accessible entrances, screening and events, parking and more. The access maps are especially useful for anyone worried about getting to the venue.

By becoming an Access Member, you can also receive information in formats tailored to your needs. While each space is geared towards accessibility, the theatre is particularly well-designed with reserved seats close to the signer for those with hearing impairments attending a BSL performance, and reserved seating with the best views of the screen for those attending captioned shows.

The Barbican are dedicated to being one of London’s most accessible theatres and performing arts venues. They work alongside Attitude is Everything in the TIcketing Without Barriers Coalition to promote conversation about booking of access requirements.

  • Infrared hearing loop
  • Audio Described performances
  • Captioned performances
  • BSL performances
  • Changing Places toilet (Beech Street Cinema location, other accessible toilets available at the Silk Street Centre)
  • Free parking for blue badge-holders
  • Audio guides
  • Large print guides
  • Access maps
  • Ramped access from main entrance
  • Lift to all levels

Lyric Hammersmith

Lyric Hammersmith theatre in London's Off West End

Originally built by the renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham, the Lyric has expanded over the years due to its overwhelming success. Today, the Lyric is the largest theatre in West London, and continues to produce impressive new productions and promote accessible performances. Its programme is eclectic and exciting, incorporating family-friendly pantomimes, revivals of classics and stunning never-before-seen shows.

Beyond their commitment to create innovative and groundbreaking contemporary theatre, the Lyric also state their dedication to developing the creativity of young people. They not only inspire with theatre shows but also host classes and activities to help hone these skills. Many of these classes are in collaboration with Action on Disability.

Across the Main House, Studio and Reuben Foundation Wing, the Lyric claims its facilities are fully accessible. The site features a Changing Places toilet and lifts to all sections with voice announcement and Braille signs.

  • BSL performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Open Captioned performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • Sennheiser Infrared Audio Enhancement System
  • Changing places toilet
  • Touch tours
  • Lift access to all areas

Polka Theatre

Polka Theatre in Wimbledon is a venue geared towards children's theatre and accessibility.

Polka is a theatre exclusively for children. It’s a popular day out in Wimbledon for the whole family, with plenty of amenities and creative shows to enjoy. The Guardian describes Polka Theatre as a ‘local and national treasure’, thanks to its world-class performances specifically for younger audiences. It’s internationally-recognised, attracting over 90,000 children annually who gather together in a world of imagination and discovery.

It is currently in its 40th year, but temporarily closed until 2020 for redevelopments. These changes will include excellent steps for physical accessibility, including automatic front doors, a sensory garden, improved lift access to all floors, a sensory suite, new accessible toilets. It will also allow wheelchair users to access onto the main stage for the first time.

As a children’s theatre, it’s no surprise that Polka has facilities suitable for children. But the London theatre also has a strong focus on accessibility and promotes accessible performances. As well as welcoming schools visits, the theatre hosts workshops where SEN groups are eligible for their Arts Access scheme. These include multi-sensory workshops for before and after the show. Additionally, Polka’s website has a signed video and a detailed guide to Polka Theatre, which was provided by Disabled Go (now known as AccessAble).  

“Central to Polka’s mission is to make live theatre accessible for all children, no matter what their background. Making our venue and work as inclusive as possible is central to that aim. We are excited that the redevelopment of Polka Theatre will enable more children with access requirements to experience and take part in our work.

It will also make sure that parents, carers and teachers who have access needs can also feel supported when they come to Polka with children – whether to see a show, visit the café or hang out in one of our play spaces. Polka is more than just a theatre, it is a loved community and creative space for children – all children.”

Lynette Shanbury, Executive Director
  • BSL performances
  • BSL integrated performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • Induction Loop (in Main Theatre and Adventure Theatre)
  • Street level access
  • Touch tours

Roundhouse

Roundhouse Venue in London

In the dynamic Camden borough of London lies the exciting multidisciplinary venue, the Roundhouse. Whether you want to see circus, poetry, music or theatre, it constantly delivers a pulsating programme. The iconic circular venue has hosted events such as the BBC Electric Proms, iTunes Festivals and plenty of experimental theatre productions.

Beyond being a diverse hub of entertainment, the Roundhouse is also a powerhouse for developing skills of young people. They have a strong community focus and artistic programmes, as well as a coworking hub and more. This welcoming and inclusive focus is further promoted in their stance on accessibility. Though the building is listed and faces some issues, they have made efforts to promote access for all.

“The Roundhouse prides itself on being accessible to all. Partnering with Attitude is Everything inspires us to continually review and revise our offer, ensuring we are one of the leading venues with regards to Deaf and disabled access, we’re proud to be a Gold Standard venue.

As well as having step-free access and accessible toilet facilities, we have trained staff, visual stories and online accessible booking. We welcome artists and audiences to talk to us about their visit and strive to provide additional services where requested to ensure everyone has a great experience at the Roundhouse.”

Tor Evans, Spokesperson from the Roundhouse

Online, you can find a detailed access guide and plenty of information about the Roundhouse’s accessibility. You can also find visual stories and virtual tours to get a sense of the listed building before hand.

  • BSL performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Captioned performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • Street level access
  • Hearing Loop system (box office and MADE Bar and Kitchen)
  • Sennheiser Hearing Enhancement System (Main Space and Studio Theatre)
  • Access list to communicate needs
  • Accessible toilets on all floors
  • Accessible booking online

Shakespeare’s Globe

The modern Shakespeare's Globe is much more accessible than the original London theatre.

Inspired by the original Globe Theatre, this venue has a special place in the world of theatre through its links to the immortal poet, William Shakespeare. The initial Globe was destroyed by a fire in the early 17th century, but the reconstruction sitting on the Thames is a great replacement. Founder, actor and director Sam Wanamaker, used inspiration from other surviving theatres alongside drawings and descriptions of the original to recreate the stunning Shakespeare venue.

Though its programme is full of traditional Shakespeare plays, the Globe shows evidence of the 21st century with experimental adaptations. Visitors can watch tragedies and epic romances with a new perspective, alongside various talks, readings, and family events.

“Assisted performances are fundamentally an invitation. At Shakespeare’s Globe we have two radically democratic spaces, but democracies can only function when no person is barred from contributing. In hosting multiple assisted performances all year round, we’re acknowledging that all people, in their wonderful variety, have a right to engage with our plays. 

The audience is vitally important in making The Globe and Sam Wanamaker Playhouse function in the way they’re intended, so we need a vibrant, diverse and imaginatively open audience to give our plays the fuel they need to thrive.

We run at least one relaxed, captioned, audio described and BSL interpreted performance for any production with a run of over four weeks. Where people aren’t able to attend an assisted performance, we make every effort to remove any barriers they may have in attending on another date.”

David Bellwood, Access Manager

The building is also a product of modern times, despite its aesthetics channeling the old Globe. It has plenty more health and safety features and claims to orient more towards accessibility. Alongside the adjacent Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the venues both claim to be suitable for wheelchair use.

The website further provides details of where their interpreters will stand and who will be interpreting. This is something Stephen Hawkins of Signed Culture claimed was an important aspect for deaf patrons, but often overlooked by many venues. Visitors can find further information relating to accessibility in their guide and through their video.

  • BSL performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Captioned performances (including individual tablets for captioning in the SW Playhouse)
  • Audio Described performances
  • Street level access
  • Induction Loop system
  • Access Scheme to communicate needs
  • Touch tours/ familiarisation
  • Large print/ high contrast brochures
  • Audio introduction to season online

Theatre Royal Stratford East

The stage of TRSE by Peter Dazeley

Bringing accessible theatre to the diverse area of Newham, East London, Theatre Royal Stratford East prides itself in being part of the community. The programme is exciting and fresh, incorporating their in-house shows with touring productions. The modern, versatile approach to theatre is complimented by its rich and historical architecture. The building is a Matcham creation, who was appointed to redesign the theatre and incorporate electricity. Today, the Theatre Royal Stratford East is a listed building.

The venue’s approach to inclusivity and working with the neighbourhood extend to it’s stance on accessibility. It is part of the Ramps on the Moon consortium, which brings together a collaborative network of six National Portfolio Organisations. Ramps on the Moon is led by New Wolsey Theatre and includes Brimingham Repertory Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, Leeds Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres, strategic partner Graeae Theatre, and the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Ramps on the Moon aims to achieve a step change in the employment and artistic opportunities for disabled performers and creative teams, and a cultural change in the participating organisations to enable accessibility to become a central part of their thinking and aesthetics.

  • BSL performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Captioned performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • Touch tours
  • Six wheelchair spaces
  • Access mailing list
  • Infrared induction loop

Chickenshed

Chickenshed theatre in London

Stemming from a former chicken barn in Barnet, hence the name, the theatre is one of the most promising accessible performing arts venues in London. It has four performance areas, and programmes theatre, comedy and music shows. Its productions have been performed at various public events, including the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. 

The theatre company in Southgate are all about inclusion. They have many features to promote access, as well as various outreach projects, education courses and working with other organisations. Chickenshed aims to create outstanding theatre that celebrates diversity and positive change.

“Chickenshed is an organisation that is built on a philosophy of inclusion – we believe in the value of every individual, and our vision is of a society that welcomes and values everyone. That idea applies as much to our audiences (both existing and potential) as to our students and our participants – we want our shows and our building to be open, available and welcoming to everyone.

As others have said, accessibility is as much about a mindset as it is about infrastructure. We will always aim to listen, rather than to assume that what we have provided in the past will suit everyone.

By treating everyone as an individual, we believe that gives us the best opportunity to be accessible to all.” 

Kevin Metchear, Head of Communications & Commercial Development
  • Sennheiser Infrared System in main house (for audio boost, induction loop and audio description)
  • Portable Infrared System for other spaces
  • Captioned performances (using captioning box and/or tablets)
  • BSL performances (fully integrated into selected shows)
  • Audio Described performances
  • Touch Tours
  • Pre-show audio notes
  • Season brochures and programmes available in alternative formats
  • Accessible website

National Theatre

National Theatre in London has lots of accessible features.

The accessible theatre is located in central London, close to Waterloo Bridge. It is one of the city’s most prominent, recognised around the world as a leading theatre of Britain. It includes three distinctive theatres; the Olivier, Lyttelton and Dorfman. There’s also restaurants, bars, exhibition spaces, a theatrical bookshop and various terraces. 

The programme comprises Shakespeare and other classic works, but also features more contemporary writing. It also produces simulcasts where live productions are screened across the UK. NT Live, as it’s called, started with Helen Mirren in Phedre. National Theatre also hosts its own festivals ‘Connections’, ‘River Stage’, and ‘Watch This Space’. 

When it comes to access, there is quite a bit of information on their website. It details access to each of the three theatres, facilities for different disabilities and each type of accessible performance.  There are also a range of performances that can be accompanied with Smart Caption Glasses. Furthermore, AccessAble claim the staff at National Theatre receive disability awareness training too. 

“At the National Theatre we make theatre for everyone and so we are always looking for ways to improve how our audiences engage with our work. For every production, we offer Audio-Described and Captioned performances, as well as Touch Tours, the Infrared Audio System and, in the Olivier and Lyttelton theatres, the Loop System.

We also offer Relaxed Performances for select productions across the year and all performances of Jellyfish in the Dorfman will be performed in a relaxed environment

In addition we have recently launched our smart caption glasses for D/deaf, deafened or hard of hearing audiences and ProFile, a video database for D/deaf and disabled actors which industry professionals can use as a casting tool. We hope both of these developments will have a huge impact, not only at the NT, but in the entertainment industry as a whole.”

Ros Hayes, Head of Access
  • Infrared System 
  • Script lending service
  • Captioned performances 
  • Smart Caption Glasses
  • BSL performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • Touch Tours
  • Relaxed performances
  • Pre-show audio notes
  • Accessible website
  • Large print seasonal brochure
  • Free cast lists in braille and large print
  • Access List

Kiln Theatre & Cinema

Auditorium of Kiln Theatre & Cinema

Formerly the Tricycle Theatre, The Guardian describes the venue as having a matchless record in exposing justice. It has a reputation for showing theatre that reflects contemporary politics and diverse and underrepresented communities. It took on the new name of Kiln, to echo its community of Kilburn and demonstrate its relationship with the vibrant neighbourhood.

The London building recently underwent a big renovation to make the theatre more accessible to everyone. The areas include the front of house, auditorium and backstage. According to Octavia Foundation, Kiln is among the top ten most accessible venues in West London. Coupled with the refurbishment, Kiln’s Front of House staff also undergo accessibility training. This undoubtedly lends to the venue’s holistic approach to breaking down barriers. 

“Kiln is an accessible building with access to adapted toilets on all three levels. We have added three wheelchair spaces to our theatre auditorium and lowered our box office counter to accommodate all different types and sizes of wheelchairs – we hold these spaces and can even offer tickets to customers in wheelchairs on the door, which is a very rare thing to be able to do. 

We programme access performances for every production, and recently introduced our first relaxed performance of White Teeth and a signed performance of Wife. There’s also two captioned screenings in the cinema every week.

Kiln further offers free access membership available, which allows customers to book online.”

Nina Primeraki, Marketing and Communications Manager

There is ramp access to the theatre, bar, cafe,ac and box office. There’s also step free access to stalls in the theatre and a lift to the lower level. However, the circle is only accessible via stairs.

  • Relaxed performances
  • Captioned performances
  • Audio Described performances
  • Accessible toilets
  • Touch Tours

TickX are always open to hearing your thoughts as to which venues you think should be considered one of London’s accessible theatres. Feel free to drop us an email at hello@tickx.co.uk

To find out what’s coming up in theatres near you, visit our what’s on – theatre page for shows and tickets.

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