On Saturday 18th November in Sydney, Disney Theatrical Productions collaborated with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), the Capitol Theatre and Ticketmaster to offer a relaxed performance of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast the Musical.
It was a unique and inclusive performance tailored from start to finish for audiences who may need additional support, including people living with autism, so they could enjoy a musical theatre performance. The initiative is part of Disney’s efforts to make its storytelling inclusive and accessible to all audiences.
Disney VoluntEARS attended to support the event with more than 1300 guests in attendance, many attending their first theatrical performance. Actor, author and disability rights advocate Chloe Hayden opened the performance and welcomed families and carers to the show.
Disney and Aspect worked closely over several months to consider and adjust the production, so the relaxed performance accommodated people with sensory sensitivities and the audience was cared for at all touchpoints.
Cast and crew accommodated more than 35 sensory changes to the performance including noise reduction, dimming the house lights throughout the performance, and employing visual cues (warning light system) as a ‘pre-warning’ mechanism prior to potentially overwhelming scenes or moments.
A comprehensive visual story was created to explain the show step by step, with inclusive and welcoming language used on the official website and during the ticket buying process. Audio announcements were turned off throughout the theatre, overall capacity reduced, ticket prices lowered, and quiet rooms and quiet spaces provided and equipped with sensory coping tools. Additional theatre staff and more than 60 volunteers were on hand to assist audience members.
The performance brought families together to experience the magic of Disney at the theatre.
To learn more about Aspect visit https://www.autismspectrum.org.au/
To learn more about Disney’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, visit https://impact.disney.com/