New York, NY – Theatre Development Fund (TDF), the not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, has announced their sixth season of autism-friendly performances presented through its Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI) for 2016-17. This season’s slate of autism-friendly Broadway matinee performances will be: “The Lion King” on Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 1 p.m. at the Minskoff Theatre, “The Phantom of the Opera” on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 1 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre, “Aladdin” on Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 1 p.m. at the New Amsterdam Theatre and “Kinky Boots” on Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 1 p.m. at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.
Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI) operates under the umbrella of TDF’s Accessibility Programs, also known as TAP. Autism Theatre Initiative’s mission is to make theatre accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum, and their families. To create an autism-friendly setting, the shows are performed in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. Slight adjustments to the production will include reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theatre lobby there will be staffed quiet and play areas, if anyone needs to leave their seats during the performance. For these special performances, TDF purchases every seat in the theatre for sale at discount prices exclusively to families, groups, schools, etc. whose members include individuals on the autism spectrum.
“As this program enters its sixth season, what we’re seeing is a growing comfortability with the theatre going experience of the families with children and adults on the spectrum,” said Victoria Bailey, TDF’s Executive Director. “We are able to build on five seasons of work and can see with each new autism-friendly performance that a safe, supportive environment makes the experience of live theatre enjoyable for everyone. We thank the generous funders who support this program allowing us to provide several hundred tickets for each performance for those who cannot afford them, and to continue to expand and deepen it.”
“With each passing year we see this program become more and more far reaching as we consult with other theatres and share our best practices of how to provide an autism-friendly performance,” said Lisa Carling, Director of TDF’s Accessibility Programs. “I want to give a shout out to our dozens of ATI volunteers, many who are autism specialists, and some are actually on the spectrum themselves, who help make our autism-friendly performances run smoothly and create a secure environment for the attendees.”
ATI has previously presented autism-friendly performances of these three upcoming shows to sold-out houses. Other Broadway shows that have been presented as autism-friendly by ATI since the program was launched in 2011 are: “Elf: The Musical,” “Mary Poppins,” “Matilda,” “Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark,” “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time” and “Wicked.”
For more information on Autism Theatre Initiative and how to sign up for upcoming autism-friendly performances and when tickets go on sale (they generally go on sale approximately 6-8 weeks prior to the performance date, exclusively through TDF’s web site), go to: www.tdf.org/autism
(Photo Courtesy of TDF's Facebook Page)