A great interest of mine in theater is accessibility, so I was extremely excited to hear about a new opportunity at Hennepin Theatre Trust with the tour of The Lion King that will be playing there starting July 5th. On July 30th at 2pm, a sensory-friendly performance will be offered, geared towards patrons with sensory, social, and learning disabilities, particularly those on the autism spectrum, and their friends and family. Minneapolis is only the fifth city to provide such a performance for the tour (including New York, Boston, Houston, and Pittsburgh) and it’s the first time such a show has come on a Broadway tour in Minnesota.
Accommodations in this performance includes:
- house lights left at a low level
- designated quiet spaces and activity areas, as well as standing and movement accessibility throughout the theater
- lower sound levels (especially for loud and sudden/startling sounds)
- trained volunteers and professionals on hand
- sensory objects including fidgets, earplugs, and noise-cancelling earmuffs available
Theater should be accessible to everyone and I love that “traditional” presentations of theater are being adapted and changed to be more open and accepting to audiences who are neurodivergent. Sitting in a dark room, in small spaces with loud noises is not everyone’s ideal way to watch a show and offering different ways to experience theater – especially for children – is a wonderful way to broaden a patron’s experiences and introduced them to theater, broaden a theater’s audience base, and broaden the experience of other patrons to a larger community in the theater. If you or someone you know are interested in seeing this performance, tickets can be purchased at HTT’s page for the performance, which also includes more information about the services offered. Hopefully we’ll see more performances like these, both here in the Twin Cities and nation-wide!