Inclusive shows for people with disabilities

The light gradually went out, the sound was less loud than usual. A cinema session with Culture Relax is neither the same nor quite different from any other. But it embraces a public that the culture often forgets: people with disabilities.

Created in 2005 under the name Ciné-ma difference – first for the cinema and then since 2018 for live shows – the Culture Relax association wants, as its name suggests, to relax the atmosphere and create a kind and warm place of culture for people with autism, multiple disabilities, intellectual or cognitive disabilities, mental illnesses or even Alzheimer’s disease… For people this, going to the cinema or theater is often a matter of ‘testing. ” Some go there with balls in their stomachs and others forbid because of the fear of facing the gaze of other spectators. explained Amar Nafa, General Delegate of Culture Relax. Their disability leads to “atypical” behaviors such as the need to say what they see or come and go across the room.

Varied programming, never changing shows

For them, the association offers unchanged shows but with relaxed codes, open to all and included in the programming of the cultural area. ” In the beginning, we didn’t want to make something just for kids but something everyone could enjoy, insisted Amar Nafa. Everyone can express themselves in their own way, by vocalizing, entering, leaving, commenting on what they see. To set up these theaters or live shows, Culture Relax works directly with cultural venues to help them welcome people with disabilities and make their shows accessible. Training is thus set up for teams in relation to this type of public.

For the cinema, work was carried out on sound for people with autistic disorder who suffer from hyperacusis – an abnormally low noise tolerance threshold – and on light, the room does not fall into darkness with a knock. For live performance, work is performed upstream on the best placement of people in the room. On D-Day, mediation tools were available to viewers with, for example, documents written according to a specific protocol: the FALC protocol, “easy to read and understand”. A team is present at each performance to help people settle in and reassure them, and a rest area allows them to get out of the show in case of emotional overload. Finally, there are technical adjustments: there are no commercials or trailers in the cinema to focus the viewer’s attention and a short clip, summarizing the principle of the session, is broadcast.

Communication and Understanding

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Talking to other viewers is the key to these Relax sessions which always take place in a good atmosphere. ” We inform the whole audience so that there is no reaction of misunderstanding: when we have information in advance, we do not ask questions and we support the performance in a positive way. It helps to stimulate discussions about disability and difference, topics that are not often discussed “, emphasized Amar Nafa. This good communication also makes it possible to relieve disabled people and their companions. ” The first time, they were a little cautious, then they came back a little calmer. They know they are welcome and will not be the center of attention. »

Last season, 69 theaters took part in organizing 428 screenings that attracted 15,000 spectators, including 6,000 with disabilities. For live performances, Culture Relax partners with seven cultural venues in Île-de-France and Shakespeare d’Avril, a theater biennial dedicated to the English playwright in Vincennes. About twenty performances took place during the year. ” All these places organize inclusive screenings that allow people with mental disabilities to attend the shows in the most interesting conditions possible. “, the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak indicated during her wish to cultural artists, on January 16th.

The next shows organized by Culture Relax


In February, four shows were involved in the Culture Relax screening – not to mention the many film screenings in the cinema. At the Cité de la Musique – Philharmonie de Paris, the One against One concert (1eh February) is loosely inspired by the characters of Orpheus and Eurydice, imagining Eurydice’s life during her stay in the Underworld. A show that combines circus, theater and live music.

On February 5, the puppet show Notre vallée, at the Jean-Vilar Theater in Vitry-sur-Seine (photo), is the latest creation from the company Arnica. At the heart of the story: an imaginary valley that we cross for thirty years with the various people, plants and animals that live in it.

Théâtre Dunois, in Paris, hosts a comic bazaar on February 15 with Saccadit, a dance show. Finally at the Maison de la Radio, the Japanese tale Kitsune, the forest of foxes came to life in the form of a concert on February 18. The Kitsune – these supernatural foxes that get a new tail with amazing power every hundred years – crossing the ancestral religions of Japan. Playwright Kevin Keiss offers a dive into the world of these legends, popularized by manga and video games.

Reservations for these shows must be made in advance with the partner structure to take into account the specific needs of each person.

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