Defiantly different
— The Guardian on Access All Areas

Inspired by a refusal to be silent, and a history of being ignored, 5 learning disabled artists take us on a wondrous adventure underground.

A goddess, a baby, a bird, an eater and an escapist guide us through a maze-like institution, growling to be heard, and waiting for the revolution that is forever promised.

As they tear back the walls to their lives, past and present spin together in a powerful expression of what it feels like to have a learning disability in today's world.

Over two years, MADHOUSE re:exit has built on the legacy of Mabel Cooper, a resident of a long-stay hospital for people with learning disabilities, who pressed the button that blew up one of the last of these institutions in the UK. Now, award winning theatre company Access All Areas returns with a fantastical, disruptive, immersive experience that explores what this history means today.


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Developed with Barbican Centre, Shoreditch Town Hall, The Lowry, Battersea Arts Centre, Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England, and the Open University.





Thursday 17th - Saturday 26th May 2018 at Brickworks, Barton Arcade, Manchester

Previous Performances

Tuesday 13th March - Wednesday 28th March 2018 at Shoreditch Town Hall, London

Familiarisation and touch tours:

  • Friday 16th March at 4pm
  • Tuesday 20th March at 5pm
  • Monday 26th March at 5pm

You can download the Easy Read visual guide for the show here.

You can download an accessible timetable of performance here.

BSL performance: Monday 26th March, 8.30pm

Access All Areas is committed to ensuring that each audience member is respected as an individual, with their own access needs, communication styles, and self-identification, by ensuring that all access requirements are met.

To ensure that the performance is as accessible for you as possible, please let us know if you have any access requirements by using the Access Booking Form.

Access information will be treated as confidential and used only to ensure needs are met.

Information for schools, advocacy and community groups:

Want to go deeper into the MADHOUSE? 

Access All Areas is offering free workshops exploring the themes and legacy of the production, for groups of up to 10 participants with learning disabilities. 

Co-facilitated by learning disabled trainers, workshops last approximately 60 minutes, are designed to be accessible for all and can take place at your venue. 

Please contact for more information and to book.

Madhouse, My House?

Madhouse, My House? is a three-year digital and creative learning programme to accompany the Performance Company's MADHOUSE re:exit production.

The project explores the institutionalisation of people with learning disabilities from the introduction of long stay hospitals in 1913 to present day treatment units. The project aims to ensure as wide an audience as possible, of all different abilities, can engage in the performance and surrounding activities. 

Over the three years we are running a series of film, performance and digital advocacy projects. Partners on the project include the University of East London's RIX Research and Media, the Open UniversityUniversity of Reading, Hackney Museum and Books Beyond Words in a number of exciting ways. 

RIX Research and Media has worked with seven of our members to create an accessible website exploring institutionalisation and recording the overall project.

Six of our members researched and created an accessible and interactive exhibition alongside the University of Reading at Hackney Museum that runs from 2nd February until 20th May 2017.

We are running a series of Madhouse History weeks to engage groups of adult with learning disabilities in the exploration of this cultural history through performance, advocacy and the creation of a non-word book with Books Beyond Words

We have worked with the Open University to create an education pack for all ages and abilities that explores institutionalisation and life in long-stay hospitals. This pack was launched at Parliament's Portcullis House in November 2016.

Madhouse, My House? is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

More information

For more information about getting involved with Madhouse, My House? contact Alex: 0207 613 6445 /

For press enquiries, contact Patrick Collier: 0207 613 6445 /