You can find more information on our Frequently Asked Questions page:
What is a Considerate Performance?
You can find out more about how a Considerate Performance differs from a Relaxed Performance, and why our autistic writer Rhi Lloyd-Williams wanted to differentiate between the two, on our blog post about Considerate Performances
For further information about what happens in the show and what might be problematic for you, please read the Accessibility Information section below.
Considerate Performance Rules
- Dress code is as formal or informal as you like. Wear what you feel comfortable in – that can be shorts and sandals or formal-wear. I will love seeing people dressed up as much as I love seeing people in comfort. There are no pretensions here
- Try to be as considerate of other people’s different sensory needs as you would like them to be of yours
- Bring quiet fidget gadgets if they help and feel safe to use them freely. We don’t expect anyone to sit still, but we do ask for consideration for the people around you
- If you like chatting to strangers, but they don’t respond, then be kind – it’s not personal. Some people would prefer not to chat and expressing that through social niceties can be hard when you’re outside your comfort zone
- If you have any questions then please ask either the staff or one of Autact Theatre’s members. There are no stupid questions.
- If you need to leave during the performance then you are free to do so. It’s fine to come back again too. You are not trapped in here, and you are not getting in the way of the performance if you need some space
- Rhi – our writer – is autistic, and it is possible that she may get overwhelmed during the Q&A, so we make sure that she knows that the rule that anyone can leave at any time applies to her too. If she does need to finish early it won’t be a sign that things are wrong, it will be a sign that she is looking after her own needs just as she hopes that you will look after yours
- Above all be considerate and kind
What kind of space will you find at The Duck?
- A space where we want everyone to feel safe to be themselves
- A space where making social communication mistakes is not judged – and that is not aimed at our autistic audience members – miscommunication takes two!
- A space where stimming (giving yourself positive sensory information to soothe) is not just accepted it’s expected
- A space where you can feel safe to ask for more information
- A space where you feel safe to laugh or react to what you see in your own way
- A space where you are safe to leave and return at any time during the show
- A space where we respect other people’s personal space
- A space where everyone is asked to try to be considerate of other people’s sensory needs and to keep unnecessary sounds (like opening packets) to a minimum during the performance
- The Duck is 50 minutes long, and there is no interval. In some performances there will be a Q&A afterwards for about 10 minutes including the writer, Rhi – you are free to leave straight after the performance ends if that’s what you prefer and it is very usual for a few people to leave so don’t feel strange if you’d rather just go and process what you’ve seen. The Q&A is usually a really good time to hear what other people thought about the play and to ask anything you would like. Questions can be about putting the performance together, autism, Rhi’s own personal experience, how Lucy prepares for the show, or anything else that you would like to know
- The doors usually open about 15 minutes before the performance begins
- The Duck is a one-woman play so there is only one actor on stage
- There are a couple of times in the play when the character shouts loudly and is distressed, feel free to wear earplugs or headphones or cover your ears if you need to
- There are no sound systems and we don’t play any music
- The Duck will show self-injurious behaviour at one point (hitting her head) – she is acting and not actually hurting herself
- Towards the end of the performance The Duck will ask one person in the middle of the front row to shake hands. If she chooses you and you don’t want to shake her hand then you don’t have to. Just shake your head instead. There won’t be any direct interaction with anyone else at any point in the performance
- There will be no strobe lighting and we try to keep lighting as low as possible – though theatre lighting can still be difficult so do wear sunglasses if you are very sensitive to light
General Theatre Information
If you’re not a regular theatre goer, then here is some information that may be useful
- A Theatre Box Office is just the place where you buy or pick up your tickets. Sadly it’s not called a Box Office because it used to be an office set up in a box, but because the office sold tickets to boxes which were the fancier sections of the theatre. It’s also called a Ticket Office – which makes a lot more sense. There is a nice history of the term that puts the origin of Box Office in Elizabethan Theatre, saying it comes from how a box attached to a long stick would be passed through the audience to collect admission money. Sadly it doesn’t look like that’s the true version, but it’s a nice idea
- People at the Box/Ticket Office will happily let you know where you need to go and when the doors will be opening
- Depending on the venue there is sometimes an announcement when the doors are opened to let people in. They may say, “The house is now open” this is fancy theatre-speak that means you can now go and sit in your seats. Theatres seem to have their own languages, but if you’re not sure about anything then staff are always happy to explain
- There is no perfect place to sit for everyone, but if you can buy a ticket for a specific seat it’s worth having a think about what suits you best. If you are very sensitive to sound then it might be best to avoid the front rows. The middle of rows usually gives the best view, but if you think you might need to leave during the show you might want to try to book one on the edge. Some theatres (not all) keep the front row reserved for disabled people. This doesn’t just mean people with physical disabilities, and if you find it difficult to be in the middle then you can ask the theatre to allocate you one of these seats, though you may have to contact them directly. If you struggle with phones there is usually an email address on the theatre’s website that you can email
- If the tickets have numbers on them then that means you have a specific seat booked, for example 14B would mean row B, seat 14. Numbers are on the chairs and the letters are usually on the floor at the end of the row. The ushers will be able to tell you where to go when you show them your ticket
- If there is no reserved seating we are really sorry as we know that this isn’t ideal and will involve a bit of uncertainty – we wish we could always guarantee it, but sometimes it’s not an option. If you need to sit on an edge and people want you to move up, it’s okay to say that you need an edge seat. The best view is from the front rows, but sit where you feel most comfortable
- You can eat snacks and drink in the theatre, many theatres have a bar and snacks for sale that you can take in with you
- You can talk before the performance starts if you want to, or just take your time to have a good look at the space and settle in. You’ll know The Duck is starting when Lucy comes onto the stage and after a minute or so the lights on the audience will dim a bit as the main lights on the stage come up
- Feel free to laugh, sigh and nod along with the performance. We don’t expect you to make no noise at all and it can often feel really good to hear other people in the audience sharing your reactions to things
- You can take photos during the show as long as your flash is off, but please don’t take recordings and be considerate of people around you if you do. Theatre is really powerful in person and it’s written to connect to a theatre audience, a recording just doesn’t seem to work in the same way. To be a recording it would need to be rewritten for that purpose and we don’t want people to misunderstand things because they weren’t there
- After the show is over there is a good chance that people will clap. We know this can be hard for those who are very noise sensitive, so when you see Lucy start to use her flow ring for a second time, whilst sat on the chair, then that is the time to cover your ears or put on headphones/earplugs. If we are performing at a conference we know people will mostly use flappause, but we can’t guarantee that in theatres. If you would rather do flappause then please do! They may also clap after the Q&A if there is one
- If there is a Q&A at your show then someone will come on stage and tell you what is happening when the play ends. They will bring on another chair and there will be a brief pause. If you want to leave before the Q&A this is usually a good time. If you need a break you can come back in once the Q&A is running too
- After the show is over Lucy will stay on the stage for a while and you are welcome to go and speak to her if you would like. If Rhi is there too then she will also be available to talk to you unless she has run out of energy and needs to go somewhere quiet for a bit. There are usually quite a few people who want to talk to Rhi and Lucy and they really enjoy hearing all your experiences. If you want to but don’t get a chance, then you can also email us and say who you want it to get to. We really love hearing your feedback
Where you can find walkthroughs of the venues
We do our very best to share a visual walkthrough of the venue onto our Instagram account and shared on our Twitter account on the day of the performance. This is usually done on the afternoon of the day of the first show at that venue. This can help you see the route through the theatre and where things will be on the night.
At the end of the show we will be selling The Duck themed badges and fidget toys on a “Pay What You Feel” basis. It is fine to only feel like paying fifty pence or whatever you can afford. Don’t feel pressured to spend more, but if you do want to help support our theatre company, it is enormously appreciated!
We also sell flow rings (the bracelets that Lucy uses in the show) and poetry chapbooks written by Rhi for a fixed price.
When the pandemic hit and the theatres closed, Rhi kindly put together a Kindle version of her poems and a reading of The Duck.
Where to go for more information
You can find more information about the venues on their own websites. Some venues are brilliant at providing plenty of information and photos of their venues, others need a bit of work. The best theatres provide photos, videos, floorplans and information about parking, public transport links and quiet spaces. Places are improving all the time, and we’ve found that feeding back to your theatre about what worked and what didn’t can help them learn how to welcome in an autistic audience.
The Autact Theatre Team – here to help
Each venue has a great team of ushers and staff, but if you want to find The Duck’s team, then look no further. We will not all be at every performance, but we are all here to help when we are, you are welcome to ask us anything:
Andy is the easiest of us to recognise. He is 6′ 5″ and has dark hair and a bushy beard with impressive moustache (if you compliment him on his moustache, you will have a friend for life). His height makes him easy to spot in a crowd, so if you’re struggling, head for Andy. He is incredibly nice and is always happy to help (before, after, or even during the show if needed).
Rhi doesn’t have a moustache, but does have moustache-envy. She has a mess of brown curly hair as her identifying feature. She is more than happy to talk to anyone before or after the show, or if you’d rather just give her a wave, she likes that too. Rhi wrote The Duck and will do the Question and Answer session afterwards with Lucy if there is one.
Lucy is our actor who plays, The Duck. She has long, straight dark brown hair, that she ties back for the performance. She is really happy to be approached after the show, but will be a bit busy getting ready and focusing beforehand. Lucy is incredibly nice and loves to hear about how people related to the show. If a Q&A is happening Lucy will be there to answer any questions you might have.