Author Topic: ARTICLE: Producing "Sensory-Friendly" Performances  (Read 1639 times)

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Maribeth

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ARTICLE: Producing "Sensory-Friendly" Performances
« on: Sep 29, 2016, 12:09 pm »
Article about how McCarter Theatre in Priceton, NJ produced sensory-friendly or "relaxed" performances. Particularly relevant to those of us who do TYA theatre, where these performances are becoming more and more common.

bex

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Re: ARTICLE: Producing "Sensory-Friendly" Performances
« Reply #1 on: Sep 29, 2016, 04:18 pm »
I have a meeting tomorrow with the audience services folks at the theater I'm currently at to discuss modifications to this TYA show for a sensory-friendly performance! They have one night of every show here that is modified like that, but I've never done one before. Will report back!
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

Maribeth

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Re: ARTICLE: Producing "Sensory-Friendly" Performances
« Reply #2 on: Sep 29, 2016, 09:58 pm »
I've done a number of them, and the most frequently made technical changes have been keeping the house lights on at a low level (or half), lowering the sound levels, especially for startlingly loud cues, and removing any strobe light cues.

The article references these performances being a 'judgement-free zone', and I think that's the most important part, both for the performers and the FOH staff. Understanding that these audiences might react differently (and possibly in louder ways) than other audiences is key. The most successful way that I've seen this happen is having a brief meeting with the actors and the accessibility experts- it allowed the actors to ask questions directly, and they felt much more comfortable and prepared.

Hope it all goes well!

Tempest

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Re: ARTICLE: Producing "Sensory-Friendly" Performances
« Reply #3 on: Sep 30, 2016, 11:47 am »
The Center for Puppetry Arts started doing sensory friendly performances about...a year and a half ago, I think. We've gotten to the point where we try to do one for almost every show we do, and even asked some of our guest artists if they would participate, as well. It's been a really great experience for both staff and the audiences. We've even had a number of families come back for non-adjusted shows!
We've found that a lot of the work we do for these shows is managing expectations and keeping everything running on time. All of our shows contain a post-show demo; for the sensory friendly ones, we move that demo to the front of the show. Then we make sure to demo anything that might be startling like a particularly large puppet, or potentially overloading, like a rock-n-roll trip through space with lights, video and the whole shebang. And, particular to us, we have to specifically mention that the puppeteers are there the whole time, even if you can't see them.
We do keep the house lights at half, the doors open, run sound at a slightly lower level overall, and remove any strobes. But that's really about it. For the most part, it really is about giving them a welcoming environment, where they can relax and know they're not going to be asked to leave because their child is "acting up."
On a personal note, we have a family who comes to all of our adjusted shows and their daughter just loves dancing. Any music from transitional scene change music to a big production number, and she is out of her seat, dancing joyfully. I love glancing over and seeing her enjoy the shows, whenever she visits!
Jessica: "Of course I have a metric size 4 dinglehopper in my kit!  Who do you think I am?"

shanakathleen

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Re: ARTICLE: Producing "Sensory-Friendly" Performances
« Reply #4 on: Oct 01, 2016, 06:32 pm »
I've done several of these performances, and they are always a wonderful experience. I have a sibling on the spectrum, but the biggest thing is to help the performers understand how the audience may react differently (vocal reactions, people getting up and moving, some people using iPads to communicate, etc), so that they aren't thrown off their game.

Sensory friendly performances, and the supportive and understanding environment they create, are some of the few opportunities for entire families to go out and enjoy an activity together without having to worry about apologizing for who they are.
Shana Kathleen Ferguson
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BayAreaSM

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Re: ARTICLE: Producing "Sensory-Friendly" Performances
« Reply #5 on: Nov 04, 2016, 01:01 am »
At the ballet, we opened our Dress Rehearsals to certain programs as Sensory Friendly experiences. (We did this for The Nutcracker and Cinderella, to name a few.) We explained the potential audience reaction to the dancers, and even got those who didn't have quick changes for Act 2, to come out at intermission and interact with the audience. Children loved touching the costumes and holding hands, many posed for photos and some just looked at the dancers. Everyone was very gentle and had a great time. Many dancers came back from intermission moved to tears.


We worked specifically with a particular Autism group, and the "performance" was free of charge.  Families were very appreciative of it, since they felt they couldn't go out to movies, theater, etc, because they feared other's reactions to their children.


I was glad that we could offer that outreach, even if only for a few years.

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