Festival to Present Sensory-Friendly Performances
Michael Doherty as Dromio of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors.
Richard R. Henry as Major-General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance.
In an effort to serve those with autism spectrum disorders, sensory sensitivities, or other similar disabilities, the Utah Shakespeare Festival recently announced it will present sensory-friendly performances of two of its most popular shows.
The Comedy of Errors, the Shakespeare farce featuring two sets of twins, will be featured September 8 at 8 p.m. in the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre. The Pirates of Penzance, a hilarious family musical, will be September 18 at 2 p.m in the Randall L. Jones Theatre.
During these special performances, patrons will be able to enjoy the show together with family and friends in a welcoming, inclusive, and relaxed space. Tickets are half-price, with some additional education and group discounts available. More information about the plays is available online at www.bard.org, but tickets must be ordered by calling the Ticket Office at 800-PLAYTIX.
“Theatre rules will be relaxed for this performance. Patrons can freely respond to the show in their own way and without judgment,” said Education Director Michael Bahr. “This is our second time undertaking this type of performance, and our patrons enjoyed it so much that we are doubling the number of performances this year.”
These changes include the following:
House lights will be left on slightly so patrons may see to easily move around. Some patrons may want to stand or walk a bit.
Playgoers will be able to engage in self-expression, singing and clapping along—or talking or making other noises.
Playgoers will have the freedom to take breaks during the performance; they will be welcome to come and go as needed. The cry rooms will be available to all patrons.
Playgoers may bring a fidget toy or other calming object.
Playgoers may look at phones and tablets during the performance, or they may wear headphones.
“Modifications will be environmental, not artistic, so that patrons can enjoy the same artistic product seen during other performances,” said Bahr. “However, we may decide to lower or dim any strobe lights or sudden, loud noises that could startle patrons.”
Children must be four years of age or older in order to attend this performance. Properly-worn masks are required in the Randall Theatre, but not in the Engelstad Theatre.