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Autistic Kids Can Experience Shakespeare at Home Thanks to U.K. Theater

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What to know: Flute Theatre, a modern-day Shakespeare company in the U.K., has adapted “Pericles” for autistic people, and it’s now available over Zoom worldwide. Flute Theatre has previously designed shows that take into account the sensory needs of neurodiverse people and their families.

  • “Pericles,” which was originally slated as an in-person show, has now been adapted for Zoom so people on the spectrum can participate right in their own homes, one family at a time
  • The story is told in a series of interactive games with different sensory experiences that allow autistic kids to participate for as long or short a time as they want in each portion of the story
  • At the end of the show, which generally runs about an hour, autistic participants have the chance to chat with the actors and there’s no rush to leave so the transition out of the show isn’t abrupt

Just as Pericles reaches across oceans to find his family, we’ve stretched ourselves to keep contact with our community of autistic individuals and in doing so we’ve created a whole new way of telling this story that we can now share with the world, one family at a time. — Kelly Hunter MBE, artistic director, Flute Theatre

The Frontlines: Other performances and theaters are beginning to make their spaces more accessible to the sensory needs of neurodiverse people.

  • Many movie theaters, including Regal and AMC, have been offering select sensory-friendly screenings with accommodations like lowered sound volume and brighter lighting
  • The nonprofit TDFs Autism Friendly Performances works with major Broadway productions to host sensory-friendly dates of popular musicals
  • TDF also works with performance arts centers nationwide to provide resources and training to make other productions more accessible to neurodiverse people

A Mighty Voice: Despite small gains in accessibility, one mom, Jessica Matthews, previously told The Mighty she was asked to leave a movie theater because autistic her son was being disruptive. “I could see some people being irritated, but it’s not more than most kids do during movies. To hear that people were bothered by him was just like a punch in the gut.” You can submit your first person story, too.

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From Our Community: 

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Other things to know: For more on autism and the performance arts, check out these Mighty articles:

What’s next: You can book a performance of “Pericles” through Flute Theatre here and check out additional “Pericles” games you can play at home here.

Header image via Peter Lewicki/Unsplash

Originally published: June 9, 2020
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