Arts for All at Near West Theatre

Posted November 08, 2017 in Press Releases

Arts for All at Near West Theatre

"...I love theater, but as someone with epilepsy, I cannot always attend a show...Attending the sensory-friendly performance was a liberating experience for me, since it meant I could sit through the entire show without any risk. But most importantly, it meant that the theater became accessible to an entire population of people (and their families) who can't normally have experiences like this..." -audience member

Last year at Near West Theatre we hosted our first Sensory Friendly Performance. It was a powerful experience for not only the audience members but also the Near West performers and staff. We are looking forward to opening our doors to people of all abilities again this year during our Sensory Friendly Performance of Beauty and the Beast on Thursday December 7th at 7:30pm.

"Performing in the sensory show was a great experience that had added meaning for myself and my family. Having a child with special needs for 16 years now we have seen firsthand how challenging it can be for families to not only provide their special needs children with the experiences they want them to have, but also to find activities for the entire family to enjoy..." -adult cast member/parent

A Sensory Performance is a show geared towards those on the Autism Spectrum. Sensory Performances are performed in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of people on the spectrum as well as their families and friends, people with other sensitivity issues, or other disabilities.

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 as well as others with sensitivity issues, their friends, and families. While the show will be the same performance that any typical audience will see the audience itself, on the Dec. 7 performance, will not be typical. Because of this, tickets for this performance can only be purchased over the phone.

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