Hello again, readers. My last blog here was about The Drowned Man, a site specific promenade theatre experience by the renowned Punchdrunk, in collaboration with the National Theatre. Having been once, and had a great experience, sadly, the blog recounted the difficulties I’d had in booking tickets for a return visit. I posted the blog on the 22nd March, and emailed a copy to both Punchdrunk and The National.

I’m delighted to say that Punchdrunk have taken the issues raised seriously, and taken steps to address them. I’m publishing their response here, with their permission.

On the 25th March, I got the following reply from Punchdrunk:

Dear Samantha

 Many thanks for your email and please be assured that we are addressing the issues you have raised as a matter of priority, and in communication with the National Theatre. 
We will be sure to respond in detail to the points you raise as soon as possible. 
With best wishes, 
 Jennie Hoy
General Manager
I was glad they were taking the time to communicate with the National Theatre, and address the issues, rather than responding initially.
On the 27th, I recieved their full response:
Dear Samantha 
Following such a positive experience at The Drowned Man, we are very sorry indeed to hear of the frustrations that you have subsequently encountered whilst trying to arrange your return visit. 
Punchdrunk is passionately committed to making it’s creations accessible for all to experience, and your feedback is extremely valuable to us as we continue to develop and innovate in this area of our work. 
At the time of the pricing re-structure, we now recognise that we didn’t give adequate information regarding the requirements of disabled people taking up the Studio Executive invitation. This was an oversight and while we’re sorry that this gave the impression that we were being unhelpful or unwelcoming, we’re glad to have the opportunity to clarify our position on the issues you have raised. 
Punchdrunk did review the ticket pricing structure for the extension of the show, and among other changes was a revised £25 concession ticket price. The disabled concession ticket price should always be offered, subject to availability, regardless of whether or not the patron/s requires an access host to accompany their journey. Furthermore, the disabled concession price is extended to both the disabled patron/s attending and their carer, and is not a 2 for 1 offer. 
The disabled concession price does indeed extend to the Studio Executive experience, and we can make arrangements to accommodate groups of disabled patrons.
Given the complex nature of this production, we continue to work with the National Theatre box office team to ensure adequate information is given to the staff and where there is any doubt, enquiries should always be referred to Punchdrunk to respond to directly. In light of your experience, please be assured that we will review the information that is provided, and will be vigilant to ensure that in areas of any doubt, a member of Punchdrunk staff is contacted to advise accordingly. 
We do hope this information addresses your main areas of concern, and offer our sincere apologies once again. 
We would be delighted to invite you to return to Temple Studios with your friend and carer, and would be happy to make arrangements for you to experience The Drowned Man as Studio Executives on Friday 4th April at 9pm, should that date and time still be convenient for you and your group. As a gesture of good will, we would like to offer these tickets with our compliments. 
We look forward to hearing from you. 
With warm regards, 
Jennie Hoy

General Manager

So, Punchdrunk
  • apologised
  • stated they are committed to accessibility
  • agreed that there had been an oversight, resulting in a lack of adequate information about disabled visitors to the Studio Executive option
  • explained that I had been given incorrect information
  • explained that the concession price should always be offered, regardless of whether an access host is needed
  • clarified that they can accommodate groups of disabled visitors
  • stated that they are reviewing the information provided to the box office team
  • offered complimentary tickets as a gesture of goodwill
I’m very pleased that this situation was a matter of miscommunication between Punchdrunk and the National, and an oversight when reviewing their pricing structure, rather than a deliberate attempt to exclude or disadvantage disabled guests. I’d had such good experiences with Punchdrunk, both at The Drowned Man, and previously, at Crash of the Elysium, and it was most upsetting to feel this had changed.
Similarly, I’ve had many good experiences with The National Theatre in the past. The National Theatre haven’t responded directly, although Punchdrunk have said they were communicating with them, so I didn’t necessarily expect a separate response.
I would say, though, that the National Theatre may wish to consider some disability awareness training for its box office staff, so they don’t suggest that disabled patrons can’t possibily have disabled friends and wish to attend the theatre with them!
We did indeed have a return visit to The Drowned Man, and once again, it was enthralling. The good news is that its run has once again been extended, until late June, so I would recommend catching it, if you like unusual, challenging and immersive theatre.