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 you 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 too.
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. Our stewards like to meet new friends on the day so why not introduce us to your soft friend?
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 you.
Noise / behaviour
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.
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.