Q. What is a sensory-friendly plus performance?
A. A “sensory-friendly” performance is a theater production that is specially catered to individuals with sensory needs such as people on the autism spectrum, with anxiety or other cognitive and physical disabilities. We added the “Plus!” to indicate that the show is family friendly and it is modified to allow for more movement, staff and actors are specially trained to accommodate the needs of this population, and it is a judgment-free zone.
Q. When and where are these shows taking place?
A. During the 2019-20 Season, the Sensory-Friendly Plus! performance takes place on Saturday, November 16 at 12:oo pm for A Christmas Carol in the Chace Theater (upstairs) at Trinity Repertory Company. The theater is located at 201 Washington Street, Providence RI 02903. A Christmas Carol will be 100 minutes including an intermission.
Q. How can I get tickets?
A. Tickets for this performance can be purchased through the box office, securely online, in person, or by phone at (401) 351-4242. Be sure to mention that you would like to attend the Sensory-Friendly Plus! performance.
Q. Who should attend a Sensory-Friendly Plus! performance?
A. The Sensory-Friendly Plus! performances are specially designed for people with sensory processing disorders, autism, or other developmental, cognitive and intellectual disabilities and their families and caretakers. If an individual has been unable to attend live theater or movies because of their special needs, this is the perfect performance for them. We promise a judgment-free, fun experience for the entire family. Whereas other public performances might frown upon a lot of movement or loud reactions, we will embrace and prepare for it! All children must be accompanied by an adult. We encourage any caretakers and family members of people with special needs to attend.
Q. Can people without autism or cognitive and physical disabilities attend these performances?
A. Sensory-Friendly Plus! performances are designated especially for people with sensory-input challenges and their families. Not only will the production be slightly changed to fit their needs, but the environment of the audience will be quite different. The lights in the audience will be raised slightly, allowing for more movement. We expect that many individuals with autism and developmental disabilities will be vocal during the performance. Trinity Rep patrons who do not require these modifications should try to book into another show to leave room for folks who need it and their families to enjoy a comfortable, judgment-free performance.
Q. What changes will you be making to the production and scripts?
A. The beloved stories will not be changing, but some of the technical elements will be softened to accommodate sensitive ears and eyes. Lights in the audience will be up for the entire show to allow safe movement in and out of the theater. Any haze or strobe lights will be removed. Abrupt and loud sound effects will be lowered significantly and the volume will be set at a comfortable level. Actors’ paths through the audience will be changed to allow for movement of patrons. House management and production staff will be trained to accommodate the special needs of the population. Restrooms will be unisex throughout the building. The lobby will be a designated safe area for patrons to relax if they are overstimulated. We will also allow outside snacks inside the theater to cater to gluten/casein-free diets. Our concessions stand will be stocked with some special snacks too!
Q. My child/family member/client with autism has difficulty with transitions. Is there anything I can do to prep them for this new experience?
A. Trinity Rep will provide a plot synopsis and social story to help prepare any wary first-timers. We encourage families and caretakers to read the synopsis of the show and use the social story to prepare for the whole theatrical experience, from beginning to end. Also, we are planning a “Meet Your Seat” session one hour before the performance begins. Patrons and their families can come early to see where they will be sitting, get a preview of the set, and meet our friendly staff.
Q. Can I bring edibles, fidget toys, headphones or other items that help my child/family member stay calm?
A. Of course! We encourage you to bring any items that might make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable.
Q. My family member is in a wheelchair. Can you accommodate us?
A. Yes, Trinity Rep has an elevator and wheelchair accessible seating. Please inform the box office of any mobility issues – especially if you received a ticket through another organization. Please call (401) 351-4242 or visit the box office to redeem any vouchers and notify them of special seating needs.
Q. Are service animals allowed in the theater?
A. Yes, Trinity Rep always allows service animals to accompany patrons.
Q. If my child/family member is not able to sit through the entire show, will we be able to leave the theater? If they decide to, will we be able to return to our seat?
A. Yes, ushers and staff will be helping any travelers to the lobby area. If the patron decides they cannot finish the show, you can absolutely leave the theater early. If they simply need a break, our lobbies will be available. Whenever possible, house management will guide patrons back to their original seats. If not, they can be reseated in the back of the theater.
Q. Will there be anything to do in the lobby?
A. Yes. Should a patron need a break, the lobbies will be open and there will be a table set up in the main lobby with sensory activities, games, and other materials for them to interact with and enjoy. The table is run by the Rhode Island Museum of Science & Art (RIMOSA, rimosa.org ).
RIMOSA also hosts Sensory Sensitivity Saturdays on the first Saturday of month at the museum. On Sensory Sensitive Saturdays, RIMOSA opens from 10 AM to 12 PM, two hours prior to opening to the general public, with accommodations such as managing background sounds and lights, to ensure a welcoming environment and experience to individuals affected by various degrees of sensory sensitivities. Learn more at http://www.rimosa.org.
Q. Does Trinity Rep have any other programs for people with disabilities?
A. Yes! Trinity Rep has a dedicated education program for people with autism spectrum disorders and other cognitive and physical disabilities called TRAIN (Trinity Rep Active Imagination Network). This program uses theater as a means for building confidence, establishing tools for communication, and making friends. TRAIN works with The Autism Project, Bradley Hospital, Sargent Rehabilitation Center, Bradley Schools and Seven Hills RI. Learn more.
For every Trinity Rep production, we also have accessible seating available and open captioned performances. Learn more.
Q. Someone in my party needs American Sign Language Interpretation. Is that available?
A. We are happy to provide ASL interpretation for the sensory friendly plus performance of A Christmas Carol on November 16 at 12 pm. Make sure to tell the box office that you need this accommodation so that we can seat you in the right section.
Q. I have another question. Who can I contact about the sensory-friendly performance?
A. You can feel free to contact Jordan Butterfield, education director, with any questions! Call at (401) 453-9214 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org