TDF Announces Fifth Season of Autism-Friendly Performances

News   TDF Announces Fifth Season of Autism-Friendly Performances
 
The Theatre Development Fund (TDF) announced July 30 its fifth season of autism-friendly shows, which are presented through its Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI). The matinee performances of several Broadway productions are adjusted specially for children and adults on the autism spectrum and with other sensitivity issues.

ATI's fifth season will include matinees of The Lion King (Sept. 27 at the Minskoff Theatre), Wicked (Feb. 7, 2016 at the Gershwin Theatre) and Aladdin (March 6 at the New Amsterdam Theatre). Additional performances may be added at a later date. All performances will begin at 1 PM.

The Autism Theatre Initiative is one of TDF's Accessibility Programs (TAP). The programs aim to make theatre accessible for all audiences. ATI, which was launched in 2011, creates a friendly and supportive environment to make theatre accessible for adults and children on the autism spectrum, as well as their families. Adjustments that can be made include the reduction of jarring sounds and strobe lights focused into the audience. There are also staffed "play" and "quiet" areas set up for people who feel overwhelmed or need to leave their seats during the performances.

Curtain call at the end of an autism-friendly performance of <i>The Lion King</i>
Curtain call at the end of an autism-friendly performance of The Lion King

Lisa Carling, director of TDF's Accessibility Programs, said in a statement, "The success of the Autism Theatre Initiative showed us that people on the autism spectrum or with other developmental or cognitive disabilities would have a wonderful experience at the theatre with their families, in a safe, non-judgmental environment. It’s thrilling to watch these special performances.”

TDF purchases every seat in the theatre for these special performances and sells them at discounted prices to families, schools and groups whose members include individuals on the autism spectrum. Tickets to these performances are sold at tdf.org/autism.

ATI has previously presented performances of Elf: The MusicalMary Poppins, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and, most recently, Matilda.

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