UVA Arts, University of Virginia

Vol 05 Fall 16 Library
Michael Bailey
Heritage Theatre Festival

Autism Theatre Project Presents: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

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Last July 27, the Heritage Theatre Festival and the UVA-based Autism Theatre Project joined forces for a very special performance of the beloved family musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The Caplin Theatre audience was treated to a special sensory-friendly performance created and delivered for young people on the Autism spectrum and their families. Sensory-friendly performances aim to provide a positive theater experience for children with autism or other sensory-related disabilities, and their families. In this case, the Heritage Theatre Festival team, including interim Artistic Director and UVA Drama Department Chair, Colleen Kelly, and the show’s director, Bryan Garey, and his production team worked with the Autism Theatre Project to make special accommodations to the show, which included cutting it to approximately one hour in length, keeping the theatre’s house lights on during the performance, and being sensitive to potential sensory challenges such as jarring sounds. The HTF also provided a special quiet area for any audience member who needed to take a break. Trained volunteers were on hand to help support the families in attendance, who were provided a custom “Coming to the Theater” video in advance of their arrival that included the exact settings the children would experience at the show. “We were thrilled to work with the dedicated students at the Autism Theatre Project and with their partners in the community,” Kelly said. “The entire experience was incredibly meaningful and served as a great example of the power of theatre to reach across perceived boundaries and make a difference in people’s lives.”

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