A wonderful few days at the Family Arts Weekend at Theatr Clwyd, Mold! I’m ashamed to admit that I hardly ever make trips to this lovely theatre, just a few miles from where we live.
In our never-ending quest to find adventures to compensate for being abandoned by the boys for the world of cricket, it can sometimes be tricky to find activities that I know Emily will be able to access and enjoy. When I spotted the wide variety of events and activities on offer over the weekend I thought we should give it a go.
Emily has a very limited concentration span (unless it’s YouTube videos of other children opening boxes of toys, who uploads these strange things and manages to get 23 million views??!!); so the short duration of the productions and storytelling sessions really appealed.
On our first day we went to see ‘Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales’, a 60 minute show which tells the story of 4 popular Julia Donaldson books cleverly woven together with music, puppets and funny characters. I had booked 2 seats at the end of the row (incase sharp exit required) which also happened to be behind the space reserved for wheelchairs.
This worked out really well for us as it provided a space for Emily to stand, dance or randomly sit down on the floor when she needed a little ‘sensory break’ (aka escape from Mummy’s silly expectation of sitting still in a nice comfy chair). I am getting better all the time at not minding when Emily is the only one standing up or dancing, as long as she’s having a great time who cares!
On Day 2 it was ‘The Doodle Dance Show’, our best theatre experience with children so far (in my humble opinion). A magical story-show, this was a 60 minute interactive session incorporating storytelling, dance, music, combined with audience participation and activities. Even the most inhibited dancers/artists (i.e. grown-ups) were having a great time.
This was in the Clwyd Room which has more of a workshop feel to it. There are steps down into the room with handrails either side, but I did also spot a small wheelchair lift in the corner. We all sat on cushions on the floor around a huge piece of white paper, I’m sure if you were unable to lower onto a cushion wheelchairs would be completely welcome.
Finally Day 3 was a 25 minute showing of ‘Room on the Broom’ in the cinema, another one of Julia Donaldson’s lovely books. We like it so much we accidentally have 2 copies in the house. There is a lift down to the lower level of the cinema and a small area for wheelchairs with 2 companion seats. Booster seats available for the littlies!
The Family Arts Weekend was really affordable, ticket prices ranged between £5 for Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales, to a free event in the cinema. There were also lots of free or very low-cost activities, including craft, street dance, costume areas and face painting. Window painting proved very popular (think I’m going to regret encouraging that)…
We would like to catch ‘You’ve Got Dragons’ if it’s back at Theatr Clwyd another time, as this is a fully accessible show with creative captioning, BSL and audio description.
Theatr Clwyd appears to have had adaptations to provide accessibility to all areas, including additional lifts and wheelchair areas; and overall it feels very accessible (other than the tunnel from the car park which is not wheelchair accessible). There are 4 blue badge spaces directly outside the theatre, and some spaces in the main car park. You can exit the car park by the entrance onto the road if the tunnel is inaccessible for you.
There are disabled toilet facilities, but no Changing Places facilities (the nearest ones are at Holywell Leisure Centre approximately 20 mins away, or many more in Chester).
Theatr Clwyd is part of the nationwide HYNT card scheme which provides a free ticket for a PA or carer. The theatre has many additional accessibility features including an induction loop system, captioned and described shows, and relaxed performances.
You cannot fail to find something here to entertain everyone in the family, including cinema, theatre, dance, comedy, art exhibitions or just a cup of tea and a cake. If like me you have a small person with a limited concentration span, who loves to dance, listen to music and all things magical; then the family activities are probably for you! If you (also like me) have a bit extra to think about, take the time to have a look at all the accessibility information. If your littlie has sensory issues, don’t be put off as there are lots of additional options around this, and it’s a really relaxed venue.
If you don’t live near this lovely theatre, take the plunge and google your local one. Many theatres and art centres now really go the extra mile with accessibility.