The Nutcracker; or, How to do Theatre with non-NT family.

When I was 6, I had already been attending ballet classes for three years. I don’t think I saw a ‘real’ live ballet for several years but a small troupe from Scottish Ballet did visit our local community centre & I was thrilled. Their power and grace had me hooked and I studied seriously until I was about 12 and suddenly too tall and self-conscious to even think of going on stage. Given the hours of practice and four classes every Saturday – in addition to weekly sessions – you can imagine that it was rather a wrench.

Wee Bear also enjoys ballet but thankfully shows no signs of my obsessional, over serious personality. Her non-NT (neuro typical) attitude saves her from many pitfalls and this is one. However, it means she can’t really manage normal theatre performances – well, I can’t with her. The talking, questions, constant need for motion, etc make it very hard for me to relax & let’s face it, other people don’t pay to have a curly haired child bobbing up & down in front of them for two hours.

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The Festival Theatre here in Edinburgh don’t do autism friendly performances of this show but they super kindly offered to put us in one of their boxes, so nobody would be disturbed by our antics.

We started our outing with eggs benedict for daddy & chips for Wee Bear & I. I hadn’t been to the City Cafe for years & they were very friendly and relaxed, plus they have a splendid view from the first floor down the Bridges to Register House.

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Of course, eating is one of our current challenges but chips are fairly safe.

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Waiting to get to our box was a bit challenging but I could see her relax once we were safe inside. No pictures of the performance obviously although there are pictures on the Scottish Ballet website . At two hours long I would say it’s maybe 30 minutes more than we cope with and the performance does end with an actual bang, which I wish we had known about, although she coped very well (and was already sitting on my knee).

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Nothing was too scary and the staff were very kind and caring when booking. I’d certainly go again and it’s definitely worth asking about if your child has challenges. I also found it overwhelming to be honest, when leaving: we haven’t dealt with such big crowds for a long time and it’s not entirely positive but her evaluation of the day was “brilliant”, which is all that counts.

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