5 Apr 2023

News Story

Catherine King on stage BSL interpreting Orphans

Credit: Eoin Carey

The National Theatre of Scotland is committed to widening access to performances, and breaking barriers to access, for disabled audiences across the Company’s programme of work.


The Company is delighted to continue working in partnership with National Autistic Society Scotland to try and ensure all our shows are autism friendly and that a programme of Relaxed Performances is available across the year.

Rob Holland, Director of the National Autistic Society Scotland said:

“We are delighted to be strengthening our relationship with the National Theatre of Scotland through this continuing partnership. We warmly welcome the National Theatre of Scotland’s commitment to relaxed and autism-friendly performances, as they can make autistic people feel more comfortable in an environment that is often overstimulating and stressful. We look forward to the range of accessible performances that will be available throughout 2023 and the positive impact they will have.

With there being over 56,000 autistic people in Scotland, we hope other organisations throughout Scotland will be inspired by the National Theatre of Scotland and become more autism-friendly themselves.”

For relaxed performances, technical adaptations are made to the stage action to allow for those with sensory sensitivities. Audiences are welcome to make noise and move around the auditorium as they wish. All audiences who might prefer a more relaxed environment in which to enjoy the production, are welcome to attend these performances.

We also offer orientation tours for neurodiverse audiences, at selected performances, with the opportunity to see the set, handle the props and meet the cast before the show.

Visual guides are available in advance for all shows and there are breakout spaces, where possible, at every venue the Company tours to.

In 2023 the following productions will have relaxed performances (alongside Audio Described, Captioned and BSL interpreted ones) Kidnapped in Glasgow, Inverness, Perth and Newcastle, Dracula – Mina’s Reckoning in Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Stirling and for Moorcroft in Greenock.

Caroline Newall – Director of Artistic Development said

Building relationships with specialised organisations such as Solar Bear, Birds of Paradise and the National Autistic Society Scotland, alongside regular disabled audience members has given us invaluable opportunities to listen and learn. It is about making access provision visual to everyone, to normalise disability and diversity.”


All National Theatre of Scotland productions have BSL-interpreted (British Sign Language) performances. The majority of these offer integrated BSL which sees the artistic embedment of BSL interpreters into the action on stage, which reduces the split focus for BSL users. We are one of the leading theatre organisations in the UK offering BSL embedded in the action. Feedback from audience members on integrated BSL performances is always hugely positive.

In 2023 we are scheduling over 25 BSL-interpreted performances in Perth, Lyth, Strathpeffer, Stirling, Inverness, Kirkcaldy, Edinburgh, Cumbernauld, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Greenock and Newcastle, with more to be confirmed.

Our BSL interpreters for our 2023 programme include Amy Cheskin, Karen Forbes, Yvonne Strain, Sarah Forrester and Catherine King.

We are also offering 30+ Audio Described and Captioned performances across Scotland and pre- show Touch Tour for visually impaired audiences.

Our Audio Describers in 2023 include Emma Jane McHenry, Chris McKiddie. And our Captioners include Glenda Carson and Andrew Howell.

We are grateful to all our access providers, for their invaluable contribution to the creative work on Scotland’s stages.


We are currently conducting research into how best to make our digital projects more accessible for Deaf audiences, for example, by providing BSL interpretation, or BSL introductions as well as captions. Our current digital selection includes BSL, Audio Described and Captioned versions of Thirteen Fragments, Carry Me HomeandCar a' Mhuiltein | Somersaults

We will be publishing the findings of this research for others in the creative industries to benefit from.

A touch tour for Burn at Edinburgh International Festival

Credit: Andrew Perry 2022


We now consider access provision at the very start of the development of every project, bringing in access specialists to workshops to ensure we are thinking as creatively as possible about how our work includes, represents and caters to disabled people. Once a project has been greenlit for production, a detailed access budget will be drawn up that allows for the necessary fees, expenses, technical equipment, venue modification, and marketing to promote these. Access workers are welcomed into rehearsals from the start of each process to ensure that we are considering access needs at every stage.

We also have an Access and Equality team within the organisation that is looking at how we can better serve our disabled audiences.


All accessible performances are listed on our accessible performance What’s On page and on dedicated Access pages, including Kidnapped.

We are working in partnership with Euan’s Guide, so access information about each venue we tour to is easily available to audiences. Our directory of Scottish venues we are touring to lives here

To find out more about our access performances please do sign up to our access emails here and/or email if you have any questions.