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Arts for All at Near West Theatre

Posted October 12, 2016 in Press Releases

At Near West Theatre we believe that the arts are for all.

This season we’re excited to have two of our performances of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat geared towards the community members with disabilities.
On Thursday Dec. 1st we will have an ASL interpreted performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by The HeArd and on Thursday Dec. 8th we’ll host our first Sensory Production for those on the Autism Spectrum and their friends and family.

We are honored to be hosting The HeArd whose actors will be signing our Thursday Dec. 1st, 7:30 p.m. performance.

This is a tradition of ours since fall, 2003 that we are proud to once again offer. We are offering select seating in front of The HeArd performers to the members of the deaf community for the Thursday Dec. 1st performance.

Some FAQs about this performance include:

1. Why are you doing an ASL interpreted performance of the show?
It is Near West Theatre’s hope to engage all people in the power of performing arts. Providing performances geared towards individuals who may not have the opportunity to enjoy live theatre due to certain disabilities, sense limitations, etc. is very important to us and aligns with our mission. Near West Theatre has had the privilege of being able to provide an interpreted performance for the deaf during the holiday season since 2003.

2. If I am not deaf, can I still attend this performance?
YES! A section of the audience is reserved for members of the deaf community to ensure that they will be able to see the actors who will be signing the performance. The other seats are available to the other patrons in attendance for that evening’s performance.

3. Will the actors who are interpreting the performance be on the stage? Will it be distracting?
The actors who are signing will not be on the stage, but rather in front of the stage on the floor, to the left as you face the stage. They will not be in front of any action so it should not be distracting, but they will definitely be visible to all. Over the years, we have heard many people speak to the excitement and fun that the evening provides. It’s almost like seeing 2 shows for the price of 1!

4. Are Star Seats available for this performance?
YES! Star Seats will be available except within the designated section for the deaf, but all the other seats are available for Star Seat holders.

5. Are only a certain amount of tickets available to those who are not deaf or vice versa?
There are no limits to the number of tickets available for patrons who will not be viewing the performance in the section designated for the deaf. We hope to have a great turnout from individuals who will benefit from a production like this, but we will not be limiting the house. For now at least 30 seats have been reserved for members of the deaf community.

6. Will this be the only ASL interpreted performance this season?
YES. Near West Theatre provides an ASL interpreted performance one time each fall. There is only one, so make sure to take advantage now!

We are also excited to be hosting our first Sensory Production. Our Thursday Dec. 8th, 7:30pm performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be a Sensory Production.
A Sensory Production is a show geared towards those on the Autism Spectrum. Sensory Productions are performed in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of people on the spectrum as well as their families and friends.

There are a number of guidelines that go along with hosting a Sensory Production. Some of these guidelines include:

  • keeping the house lights on but dimmed

  • slightly altering the sound – lowering the volume slightly, making sure the audience is aware of where the band is located, and making sure the audience is prepared before any loud or sudden banging noise

  • no fog or haze that will enter the audience

  • no strobe lights and preparing the audience if there are any lights that shine into the house

  • keeping the house doors open

  • providing a designated quiet space set up in the lobby for people who need to step away from the production and we will be providing fidgets and noise cancelling devices for those who need it

This performance is for people on the Autism Spectrum, their friends, and families. While the show will be the same performance that any typical audience will see the audience itself, on the Dec. 8 performance, will not be typical. Because of this, tickets for this performance can only be purchased over the phone and will only be available to those with sensory issues, their friends, and families.

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