Disney's THE LION KING To Offer Second Autism-Friendly Performance, 4 May
Following the success of THE LION KING's first dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance last year, Disney's THE LION KING is set to present a second Autism-Friendly Performance on Sunday 4 May 2014 at 1:30pm. Tickets are now on sale.
THE LION KING staged the West End's first-ever dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance in April 2013. Working closely with The National Autistic Society, the UK's leading charity for people with autism and their families, and following a highly successful programme at THE LION KING in New York, The Walt Disney Company adapted the performance to make it more suitable to those affected by autism.
Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition, affecting children and adults. As a 'spectrum' condition it affects each person in a different way, but people with autism tend to experience common social difficulties understanding and relating to other people, and the world around them. Sudden changes in routine or environment can be incredibly frightening and stressful. Sensory issues can also prove problematic: for example a person may dislike bright lights, or may have very sensitive hearing and find noise, including background noise intrusive, distracting or even painful.
Understandably, a visit to a musical on the scale of THE LION KING, in London's busiest theatre, could prove an overwhelming experience for a significant number of people in the UK who have autism; over 500,000 are thought to have the condition.
This dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance will include modifications to the booking process, performance and the theatre environment, including:
- The theatre's foyer will include designated quiet and activity areas; staffed by experts in autism throughout the performance should anyone need to leave their seats
- Slight adjustments are made to the performance itself, including the reduction of jarring sounds or strobe lighting that face the audiences
- The cast of The Lion King along with Lyceum Theatre box office and front of house staff will be given training to understand the needs of an audience of families and friends with children and adults who have an autism spectrum disorder
- An autism-friendly website and booking system has been set up specifically for this performance
"Our experiences of presenting Autism Friendly Performances on Broadway have been extremely moving; not only for the audiences but for our casts and companies as well," said Thomas Schumacher, Producer and President Disney Theatrical Productions. "We are so proud to now be presenting the second of our dedicated Autism Friendly Performances in the West End, enabling new audiences to enjoy the thrill of musical theatre. We thank our creative staff whose hard work and dedication helps make it all possible."
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society, said: "For people of any age with autism, getting out and about can be difficult. Day-to-day activities such as shopping or using public transport can cause immense confusion and anxiety. Under usual circumstances, a trip to the theatre would simply be impossible for some families. But training staff and making adjustments to the performance and theatre environment can make a huge difference. Following the success of last year's performance, we're delighted to continue our work with Disney so that more people affected by autism can access the entertainment opportunities that many of us take for granted."
In November 2013, the sold-out UK tour of THE LION KING presented a dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance at the 3000 seat Edinburgh Playhouse, making it the largest dedicated Autism-Friendly performance ever to take place in Scotland. An Autism-Friendly performance of the Australian production of THE LION KING will take place in Sydney in June 2014.
Friends and families can find out more information and buy tickets at www.lionkingautismfriendly.co.uk. Tickets are sold at a specially discounted rate and can be selected on a virtual map of the auditorium. A social story is available to download from the website to help people with autism understand the process of a visit to the theatre, thus aiding their comprehension of the experience and reducing anxiety by explaining each step from arriving in the foyer to the final curtain call.
THE LION KING has now entered its 15th year at London's Lyceum Theatre. Since the UK premiere in London on Tuesday 19th October 1999, the show has welcomed over 11 million guests and remains the West End's best-selling stage production. Tickets are currently on sale until 28 September 2014.