THEATRE ROYAL BRIGHTON PIONEERS APP FOR CHILDREN WITH ADDITIONAL NEEDS
AND THEIR FAMILIES
Theatre Royal Brighton has developed an app, Inside The Magic, designed to enhance the experience of visiting the theatre for children and families, primarily those with additional needs. It is understood to be the first resource of its kind created by a theatre in this country.
The 208 year old Theatre Royal Brighton holds regular tours of the auditorium, backstage, under stage and dressing rooms. The completely interactive app will add to participants’ enjoyment by presenting additional information in a lively and accessible way.
In the dressing rooms, for example, they can see some of the famous actors who have changed into costume; in the backstage areas, they can see film of technical staff preparing the stage and they can stand on stage and watch footage of a full auditorium with rapturous applause from an audience.
Everyone will also be able to get a front and back view of the Theatre, upstairs and downstairs, even if they cannot physically make the journey themselves, as the app “walks” through various locations.
Characters such as the Prince Regent, Queen Victoria, theatre manager Mrs Ellen Nye Chart, who managed the theatre at the end of the 19th century, all appear. Skip the mouse, the mascot of the thriving children’s club at the theatre, also makes various cameo appearances.
The device has been designed in response to the challenges cited by families who have a child with additional needs. Over half of the families surveyed by an advocacy group working with families with additional needs reported that they would attend more mainstream live theatre if venues were better able to cater to their needs.
“We wanted the app to be a shared experience, rather than an audio guide, which is a solitary experience”, explains Jackie Alexander, Development Manager, Theatre Royal Brighton. “Siblings and parents can enjoy Inside The Magic together. It adds a completely new dimension to our very popular tours”.
Inside The Magic has been designed to be used either in situ or taken out to families and used as a “virtual visit” for users who have mobility issues and are unable to come to the theatre.
Funding for the app, which has been a year in development, was provided by a grant from Brighton and Hove City Council’s Aiming High Fund, aimed at increasing access to mainstream leisure activities for children with additional needs and their families.
Commenting on the app, General Manager John Baldock said: “
Theatre Royal Brighton’s history and heritage are internationally celebrated. But is wonderful to think that we are also leading the field helping every single member of our community experience the joy of live theatre”.
Karen Townsend, Head of Learning and Access at Ambassador Theatre Group’s 40 UK venues, said:
The app is the culmination of a year’s work by the team who developed it. Inside The Magic is fun, entertaining, lively and informative and will be an invaluable tool for families who may feel unsure about a visit to the theatre. We are delighted that this new app will help break down those barriers.”
Inside the Magic was devised, written and produced by Jackie Alexander and John Baldock, Theatre Royal Brighton
The software was developed by Digital Opportunities, Brighton