This season, New York City Children’s Theater began offering sensory friendly performances of our shows! Our exciting new initiative offers a welcoming environment for all families with children on the autism spectrum and related conditions. Below Education Apprentice Kiah tells us about her experience working on our sensory friendly shows!
This year NYCCT dove into an exciting endeavor that I was so proud to be a part of: providing Sensory Friendly performances of their shows to create a more welcoming and accessible environment for audience members who are neurodiverse. I had the pleasure of working on two shows: Interstellar Cinderella and Little Red Fish.
Although I’ve worked with kids on the Autism Spectrum and with related conditions for years, Interstellar Cinderella was my first time working on a Sensory Friendly performance as well! I was wowed by the team of knowledgeable specialists who assisted and all the prep work that went into creating a space that was calm and inviting but also exciting and creative for the kids and their families. There was absolutely nothing missing from the fun experience provided at typical shows – we had arts and crafts and story time as always – but we had the addition of the fabulous joy of a new community. It’s so easy to forget how unwelcoming and inaccessible spaces usually are for these kids, but hard to forget how quickly their curiosity is sparked when they feel supported and encouraged to explore and express themselves.
My most favorite thing to see at these performances are the kids reactions during the shows. Whoever said having the house lights turned a little brighter and the audience noise level being a little louder would ruin a show had no idea what they’re talking about! I loved watching the kids stand and jump and point to the ceiling when spaceships flew by durning Interstellar or gasp and ooo and aaah when the first glowing fish swam across the stage in Little Red Fish. Every time I attend a Sensory Friendly performance, I find myself discovering the show from a fresh perspective. I cannot wait to continue these accessible shows, not just for the audience members who are neurodiverse, but for any audience member who wants to experience NYCCT through new eyes.