‘King’s panto stars Andy Gray (left) and Grant Stott (right) with pupils from Pilrig Park School and the Cash for Kids mascot, Courage the Cat, launching the first ever ‘relaxed performance’ of the King’s panto. Photo by Phil Wilkinson.

‘King’s panto stars Andy Gray (left) and Grant Stott (right) with pupils from Pilrig Park School and the Cash for Kids mascot, Courage the Cat, launching the first ever ‘relaxed performance’ of the King’s panto. Photo by Phil Wilkinson.

The Festival City Theatres Trust, which runs the King’s and Festival theatres, is delighted to announce that Radio Forth’s Cash for Kids will support the first ever relaxed performance of the legendary King’s Theatre Edinburgh pantomime.

The relaxed performance of Aladdin, the King’s panto for 2014/15, will take place on Thursday 15 January 2015. It will be dedicated to the pupils of the city’s special schools and will welcome over 600 children from all eleven of Edinburgh schools for children with additional support needs: Prospect Bank, Redhall, Rowanfield, Oaklands, Braidburn, St Crispin’s, Kaimes, Gorgie Mills, Panmure St Ann’s, Woodlands and Pilrig Park.

This will be the Trust’s third year of hosting relaxed performances of its Christmas shows. It hosted Scotland’s first relaxed performance with a special show of The Snowman in December 2012, and then hosted two relaxed performances of its Studio Christmas show, The Selfish Giant, in December 2013. Creators of the King’s pantomime and the world’s largest panto producer, Qdos Entertainment, have now come on board with the model of making shows accessible for all. The Festival City Theatres Trust will be hosting additional relaxed performances of Cloud Man in The Studio at the Festival Theatre on 17 & 18 December 2014.

Relaxed performances are specifically designed to welcome people with a range of additional support needs including, mild to complex learning difficulties including Autism Spectrum conditions and other sensory and communication disorders. There is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement in the auditorium and some small changes made to the light, sound and special effects of the show. An easy way to understand the atmosphere is perhaps, ‘the opposite of the quiet carriage on the train’.

Panto stars Andy Gray and Grant Stott got together with the kids from Pilrig Park School and the Cash for Kids mascot, Courage the Cat to launch the King’s panto’s first relaxed performance.

Andy Gray, who plays Wishy Washy in Aladdin said: ‘I value this opportunity the King’s has given us to do a Relaxed Performance. After all… theatre is for everybody!! ’

Rachel Smith, Charity Manager for Cash for Kids, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be supporting this wonderful event. Cash for Kids is proud to be a local charity, helping local children and the relaxed performance provides a fantastic opportunity for children across Edinburgh to experience the magic of panto in an environment specifically designed for them.’

Rosie Wilson, Service Manager: Special Schools and Specialist Provision, City of Edinburgh Council, appraised the Trust’s work to date in hosting relaxed performances saying, ‘The relaxed performance of The Snowman in December 2012 demonstrated what could be achieved and how we can improve access to expressive arts in imaginative and innovate ways. I am very excited at the developments since then to increase access to a wider range of children and young people with additional support needs and I very much look forward to working with the Trust towards the relaxed performance of Aladdin in January 2015.’