Bridget and I were absolutely delighted to be invited to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon where we had the pleasure of watching Arthur Miller’s critically acclaimed “Death of a Salesman”.
I’m not qualified to critique the play but I can confirm it was an emotional production performed seamlessly by an impressive cast of actors. In keeping with tradition The Bimblers awards “Death of a Salesman” 5* although I’m sure they don’t need our endorsement.
What made the visit special was how accessible the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is, and how committed the Royal Shakespeare Company are to access and enjoyment of all visitors.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre
There’s something otherworldly about watching a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, it somehow makes you feel closer to the man himself.
If you allow your mind to wander you really can feel a presence which adds to the experience, I honestly can’t imagine feeling this in any other theatre (possibly The Globe).The theatre sits on the banks of the River Avon, you can watch the world go by as you sip your favourite tipple on the terrace or be in awe of the countless rowers and canoeists as they effortlessly glide through the water – it’s a quintessentially English experience!
Pre-Visit to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
For me, a good test of how serious an establishment takes access is their website. I’m pleased to say the Royal Shakespeare Theatre excelled in this area.One of the most frustrating barriers people with access problems face is the lack of information available, this often kills the visit before it’s even started.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s website has removed these barriers by publishing a dedicated access information page. It has access information for:
- Physical disabilities and wheelchair users
- Blind and partially sighted
- Deaf and hard of hearing
That’s an impressive amount of access information and it doesn’t stop there; it also includes:
- Details of tickets for disabled people
- How to book a ticket if you have access needs
- Dedicated email and phone number for access information
- Disabled parking details at and around the theatre
- Details of special accessible performances
All in all a substantial amount of information by any standards and all designed to make your trip to the theatre a pleasant one!
Easy Access for Wheelchair Users and the Less Mobile
We were especially interested in the wheelchair access in and around the Grade II listed building, here’s what we found:
There are 7 disabled parking spaces outside the theatre and a drop off point. There are further disabled spaces in local streets and from what I could see additional parking locally for evening performances.
You can find additional blue badge parking details in Stratford-upon-Avon on the council website.
The area surrounding the theatre is landscaped, has flat pavements and easy to move around. There are dropped kerbs at dedicated crossing points and plenty of public seating areas for a rest.
Access to the theatre is by way of an access ramp which isn’t steep and there’s also a step free route on both sides of the theatre. Once on the plateau, there’s level access into the theatre building.
On the ground floor, we had level access to the box office, shop, bar, cafe, outdoor terrace, disabled toilets and auditorium. Upper floor seating areas, bars, restaurants and toilets are served by lifts.
I was pleased to see the box office had a low-level counter, hearing loop and flexible payment machine which stretched to the wheelchair.
Friendly, Patient and Helpful Staff
All of the staff (Ushers) in the public, retail and performance areas were friendly and attentive to our needs. We like to be helped when we need it but don’t like fuss and the theatre staff struck the right balance.
Great Views in the Auditorium
I have no pictures of access to our seats because I was pushing a wheelchair but you can rest assured it was easy with wide doors, room to manoeuvre a wheelchair and no uneven surfaces.
Our seats had unobstructed views of the stage and plenty of room to get in and out of with a wheelchair. Taking pictures during the performance is not allowed so again you’ll just have to believe me when I say it was spectacular.
We used a manual wheelchair but the access page on the theatre website confirms that the same access is available to electric scooter users.
Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
If you want to visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre without watching a play, that’s fine. You can have a meal in the Rooftop Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, go on a guided theatre tour or if you’re not scared of heights to view Stratford-upon-Avon from the tower. Details can be found here: Visit The Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Our visit to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre was special, and one we will not forget in a hurry. Describing it as an enjoyable and accessible experience doesn’t do it justice – we loved it!
There are few theatres in the UK with this level of accessibility, and it’s made so much more special because it’s the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Both Bridget and I highly recommend you visit if you’re in the area. We’d also like to thank the Royal Shakespeare Company for giving us the opportunity to review their wonderful theatre.