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SNEDDON THEATRE NOW DISABLED FRIENDLY (article first published : 1999-06-18)

The University of Natal’s Durban campus must have been built with young, strong and energetic student bodies in mind, situated as it is on the side of a fairly steep hill. The drama department is particularly good training for future mountaineers! In recent years, however, the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre (situated adjacent to the department) has been hosting productions with a wide appeal attracting a wider – and older – audience.

Perhaps not much thought was given to the elderly and the disabled at the time the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre was built and the venue has been difficult to access for those who do not have full use of their lower limbs.

“You may have noticed that one had to be rather fit to go to the loos!” says Brandon Bunyan, deputy manager and senior technician of the theatre. “Even getting from row A to the top foyer was quite a free-climbing expedition!”

This has all changed now, thanks to James Trinder, the new director of UND Campus Affairs who has endeavoured to make the Sneddon more comfortable and safer for its audiences. “We have had railings installed on all stairs including those in the coffee bar, a toilet for the disabled has been built next to the front foyer and a new improved air-conditioning system has been installed in the auditorium,” says Brandon. “There is also space on ether side of M row (the back row) for wheelchairs and the coffee bar seating area has been extended into the top foyer to avoid the use of stairs. Funds now have to be raised to upgrade and build more male and female toilets.”


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