Media Release: The National Theatre of Scotland premieres the first autism-friendly performance in Scotland

A Christmas Carol 03

THE National Theatre of Scotland is delighted to be hosting Scotland’s first ever autism-friendly show with a relaxed performance of its five-star festive production, A Christmas Carol, on Sunday 16 December in an intimate and specially-crafted performance space at The Old Kirk, Kirkcaldy.

The performance is being hosted in association with the National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland and the run of A Christmas Carol in Fife is being co-produced with ON at Fife.

This ground-breaking theatrical first in Scotland is part of a growing trend in theatre programming in the UK to make work more accessible for people with autism. The National Theatre of Scotland joins a number of organisations that will have hosted autism-friendly performances in 2012.

The National Theatre of Scotland has worked closely with the National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland to seek advice on how best to support people with the condition and their families.

During this performance, there will a reduction in the sensory intensity of the show with, minor lighting and sound adjustments as well as a ‘familiarisation’ period prior to the show starting which will entail a tour of the set and an introduction to the cast and puppets.

The audience will also be able to spend time choosing a seating arrangement that they are comfortable with.

Autism is a developmental disability that affects an estimated 50,000 Scots.

Known as the ‘invisible disability’, people with autism can outwardly appear to be coping well, while experiencing severe challenges in communication and making sense of the world around them.

Some children with autism can experience extreme sensitivity to light and sound, and struggle with unpredictability and alterations to a regular routine. This can result in severe agitation, disorientation, and even a full ‘meltdown’.

When this happens in a public place, parents attempting to calm their child can receive unhelpful comments and reactions from the public, who mistake autism for simple bad behaviour.

Dr Robert Moffat, national director of the National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland, said: “Many of our supporters, who are people with autism and their families tell us they are keen to celebrate Christmas with fun activities, but can struggle to access mainstream entertainment venues.

“By making some simple adjustments to their performance of A Christmas Carol, the National Theatre of Scotland has given families affected by autism a brilliant opportunity to enjoy the same Christmas entertainments many people take for granted, in an atmosphere where they don’t risk being judged.

“NAS Scotland confidently expects families affected by autism across Scotland will make a special journey to Kirkcaldy to attend this first-of-its kind event.”

Marianne Maxwell, audience development manager at the National Theatre of Scotland, said: “We are always keen to explore new ways to welcome new audiences to our work. We are delighted to be working so closely with the National Autistic Society Scotland to premiere our first relaxed performance during our ON at Fife co-production of A Christmas Carol.”

A Christmas Carol has been adapted, directed and designed by Graham McLaren and had its debut run at Govan Town Hall, Glasgow in 2011.

It garnered five star reviews, critical acclaim and two awards at the Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland ceremony earlier this year, in the categories of Best Ensemble and Best Production.

The Sunday December 16th performance of A Christmas Carol is a one-off afternoon performance and the intimate venue has 70 available seats.

To find out more, book your tickets and to discuss your specific requirements please contact Marianne Maxwell on or 0141 227 9017.

For further information about the National Theatre of Scotland please contact Clare McCormack on or 0141 227 9497.

For further information about NAS Scotland please contact Cat Synnot on or 07904 732 199.


Venue info: The Old Kirk, Kirk Wynd, Kirkcaldy, KY11EH

Booking: 01592 611101/ In person from any ON at Fife theatre box office.

Ticket price: Preview £8 on Friday 7 December. All other performances – £14 (£11 concessions)

Running time: 75 minutes

Accessible perfs: Autism friendly performance on Sunday 16th December at 2.30pm

BSL interpreted on 23rd December at 2.30pm

Age guide: suggested 8+

Further information:


  1. The National Theatre of Scotland is supported by the Scottish Government.  Since its launch in February 2006, the National Theatre of Scotland has been involved in creating 189 productions in 162 different locations. With no building of its own, the company takes theatre all over Scotland and beyond, working with existing and new venues and companies to create and tour theatre of the highest quality. It takes place in the great buildings of Scotland, but also in site-specific locations, airports and tower blocks, community halls and drill halls, ferries and forests. The company has performed to over 830,000 people across four continents.
  2. The National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading charity for people with autism and their families. Founded in 1962, it continues to spearhead national and international initiatives and provide a strong voice for all people with autism. The NAS provides a wide range of services to help people with autism and Asperger syndrome live their lives with as much independence as possible.
  3. This production of A Christmas Carol has been made possible by the generous support of Kirkcaldy 4 All, The Fife Council Strategic Events Investment Programme and Fife Council Kirkcaldy Area Committee.

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Contact: Emma Schad