The RTC were told that they would not be able to fit a ramp to the steps outside the Playroom to make the venue wheelchair accessibleBen Harris

A Cambridge theatre society has launched a petition calling for the Corpus Playroom to be made a fully accessible venue and asking students to boycott the venue, shortly after cancelling their show at the Playroom due to a lack of wheelchair accessibility.

The Relaxed Theatre Company (RTC) announced on Friday they were cancelling their second show, Any Little Thing, after discovering that they would not be able to fit a ramp to the steps outside the Playroom to make the venue wheelchair accessible.

The petition says that it is “entirely unacceptable that 50% of scheduled ADC programming cannot be participated in (whether as an actor, crew member or audience member) by anyone in a wheelchair”, and calls for this to be “rectified as quickly as possible.” It will be delivered to the University, Cambridge City Council, the ADC Theatre, the Playroom’s operator, and Corpus Christi College, which owns the venue.

It calls on students hoping to stage shows in Cambridge not to apply for slots at the Playroom, as “There are other, accessible venues all over Cambridge”, and asking them to “Refuse to be complicit with the university, council, college and ADC Management in explicit ableism.”

It describes “many” of the shows already being held at the Playroom in Michaelmas as “hugely important”, but goes on to ask Cambridge theatregoers not to “pay to watch shows that support the exclusion of wheelchair users” from Lent onwards.

Jointly written by RTC and the cast of Any Little Thing, the petition states that the company had initial reservations over the accessibility of the Playroom, but decided to “work to rectify these issues ourselves.” It adds: “due to a series of miscommunications, we found out on the Wednesday before our show that the ramp we were beginning to build would not actually be allowed to be used, and wheelchair users would be unable to see our show.”

“This was even more devastating to us”, it continues, “as a member of our cast uses a wheelchair, meaning we were literally unable to have our full cast do the show.”

The petition goes on to say that, although “ADC Management worked hard to rectify this issue” by suggesting alternative venues, but that RTC felt that none of them “would work with the ethos of Relaxed Theatre Company.”

RTC describe themselves as “devoted to creating accessible theatre for all, both in creative process and spectator experience.”

“Our theatre is not simplified, and it is not designed for children. It’s simply inclusive,” says their website.

CUSU Disabled Students’ Officer Florence Oulds praised the petition in a Facebook post, saying of the playroom: “in reality such an inaccessible space to multiple kinds of disability (for both cast and crew) should never have been used for theatre at all.”

Speaking to Varsity about the petition, Oulds said the petition “encapsulates the frustrations many disabled students have with Cambridge as a University and as a city, in that it can feel like it cares more about the buildings than the people who use them and live within them.”

“There are fortunately lots of accessible venues within Cambridge”, she added, “but the University needs to be more proactive in using these as much as possible, and in making its inaccessible venues accessible: it’s easy to hide behind the excuse of “listed buildings” but being listed doesn’t mean a space can’t be adapted.”

Varsity has contacted the ADC Theatre for comment.