"The House of Pooh" Sensory Friendly Performance with Stage One Theatre
By Heidi Cooley-Cook
Joining the ranks of 'big' cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, Nashville, and others, Louisville now offers Sensory Friendly Live Theatre Performances! Stage One partnered with the Kentucky Center and the KATC to bring live theatre to families impacted by autism or other sensory sensitivities. Stage One prepared videos, photos, and artist renderings of the environment, actors, and set to assist families in preparing their loved one for October 12. Nearly 150 individuals converged at the Kentucky Center for The House at Pooh Corner for the 11:00 am performance. After a warm welcome by Peter Holloway, Executive Director of Stage One, and short overview of the accommodations, the play began. In addition to the prep materials available on-line, there were several accommodations available for the performance including:
- Theatre was not filled to capacity
- Patrons able to select their own seats
- Patrons allowed to move freely through the aisles
- Individuals free to vocalize during the performance
- House lights remained on at low level during entire performance
- Light sticks were used by ushers to give warning to the audience just prior to loud sounds or startling moments
- Entering and exiting the theatre was permitted throughout the performance
- “Quiet Room” at the back of the theatre provided continued viewing away from the audience - patrons were able to control sound and lighting in this space
- Additional space was available just past the lobby area for individuals needing a bit more room to move around away from the theatre - Live video and audio feeds were available in this room
- Trained Kentucky Center volunteers to assist with patron needs and requests
Accolades and smiles exuded from the patrons as they left the theatre. Some stayed to meet the cast, while others dashed out. What a success the first Sensory Friendly Performance was! Stage One and KATC are each taking steps to continue the momentum gained from TheHouse at Pooh Corner. Discussions have already begun at Stage One - looking forward to the next Sensory Friendly Performance - Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly! Date for the Sensory Friendly Performance not available at time of the time of publishing this newsletter.
Here at the KATC we are developing a new brochure to assist families in preparing their loved one for attending a play.
Heidi Cooley-Cook is a Family Field Training Coordinator for the KY Autism Training Center where she provides direct training and technical assistance to families.
KY Autism Training Center Fall 2013 Newsletter November 2013