Farnham Maltings are delighted to introduce this season live performances aimed at our very youngest audiences: newborns, babies and toddlers (0-3 years).

Early year shows are becoming increasing popular across the UK but we understand that for many parents, the idea of being in a theatre with their baby or young child for the first time can be slightly worrying or a daunting experience – what if they make noise or cry? What if they want to run around and can’t sit still? What about feeding, or changing a nappy?

To help answer some of those questions we have popped together a few of our top tips about what to expect and how to get the most out of a first theatre experience with your child here at the Maltings:

What will the shows be like?

Early year shows vary in content and style offering a new world to explore and experience with every visit! They often involve sensory experiences, including musical elements, magical lighting and soft participatory moments. Some shows may even involve lovely puppets which your child can meet after the show.

Where will we sit?

Most early year shows will have unreserved flexible seating and may look different every time you come. Some shows may put cushions on the floor for little ones, and you can sit behind them on freestanding seats. Some shows may include beanbags and play mats. You don’t have to worry about disturbing anyone if you need to exit the room.

Is this show for my child?

All family shows have an age guidance but you know your child best and can make a judgement if the show sounds right for them. We try to provide as much information as possible to help you make that decision (without telling you too much!)

Can I take in buggies, toys and snacks?

A dedicated space for buggies will be provided at the entrance of the space but we ask that these are left outside of the main performance space.  Drinks and snacks are often allowed but we ask that you are respectful of others. Hot drinks may not be allowed for certain performances for safety reasons but this will be made clear on the day. And we of course encourage anyone who wants to bring a favourite toy with them. It may help to entertain your little one while you wait for the show to start, and help keep them calm during.

Book ahead

We limit the size of the audience for all early years performances to make sure everyone has a good view and a more intimate experience. So they can often sell out quickly. You can also decide if you would like to pick up your tickets from our box office on arrival or get them sent to your home for ease.

Time your visit

Most shows will be on at least twice or three times a day, so pick the best time for you and your baby. Some times are more popular due to feeding times and routines so book early to get your preferred time.

Give yourself plenty of time

Allow time to park, pick up tickets, feed and change and have a minute to relax before the show starts. There will be colouring activities in the foyer before and after the show and a café to grab any snacks and drinks. You will be able to go in and out of the performance if you need to change or need a moment outside so don’t worry if time runs away on a busy day.

Be ready to play

Many early years shows have moments for you and your baby to participate if you like. They may hand out objects to feel or instruments to play. It’s not like traditional theatre where you sit silently in the dark! But of course you do not have to participate and can look and listen. Every child is different and will respond differently to bits of the show. Do what is right for your child.

Noise & behaviour

We know this can be a concern for the adults – will my child behave? What if they make noise or talk? What if they don’t want to sit still? All of our shows try to accommodate everyone and you don’t have to be silent during the show! We expect young children to laugh, shout out and cry sometimes, that is all ok. Toddlers also like to ask questions about they are seeing. Whisper but try not to explain everything so they can be surprised and come up with their own thoughts.  Sometimes a child may also get scared or anxious about being in a new space, you are ok to whisper and reassure them. You know their limits best and if you need to leave the performance for a moment and then come back in you can. The stewards will be on hand to guide you. All we ask is for everyone to be respectful of others. Remember that everyone else is there with young children too, so they’ll understand. We just ask for you to sit with your child and engage in the performance with them.

Pre-visit

Talk to your child about what to expect for example with the lights and that there may be some dark moments. Let them know it’s OK to laugh and clap! On our website we include images and clips of the performance which may help prepare your child for the visit. It won’t spoil the surprise but may help make them feel calm and hopefully excited about the show. Some shows also provide pre-show activity sheets which may be fun to do before or after the visit.

Stay & plays

Don’t rush out at the end. Many early year theatre shows include stay & play sessions at the end so you can explore the set, play with a toy/props or meet the performers. There’s no need to hurry! You may even want to get a picture at the end of your time with us!

After the show

Talk about the show afterwards and look at ways to extend your experience when you get home. From drawing pictures or acting out your favourite moments. They could write us a letter or draw us a picture of their visit too!

Remember we are always here to help!

Our stewards and front of house team will be on hand on the day to help. Please don’t be afraid to ask if you have any questions or concerns – be it what the seating will be like or how long the show will last. If you have any questions before your visit about the venue facilities, content of the show, our box office team will be able to help and guide.

Finally and most of all, enjoy the experience together!

We hope you enjoy seeing shows here at the Maltings. Please let us know about your experience, maybe with one of your top tips for your visit to us.

Laura Woodward
Theatre Programmer

 Kaleidoscope by Filskit Theatre is at the Maltings on Sunday 23 September, at 11am, 12pm & 1.30pm. Find out more & book your tickets here

Leaf, a Tam Tam theatre Production presented by Half Moon is at the Maltings on Sunday 04 November, at 10am, 11.30am & 2.30pm. Find out more & book your tickets here

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