Hartford Stage Announces the Annual Sensory Friendly Performance of A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Hartford Stage Announces the Annual Sensory Friendly Performance of A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Hartford Stage will stage its annual sensory friendly performance of A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas on Saturday, December 1, at 2 p.m. It will be the fifth year that Hartford Stage has offered the sensory friendly performance of the beloved family holiday tale.

In 2014, Hartford Stage became the first professional theatre in Connecticut to offer a sensory friendly performance, which is designed to create a welcoming and safe environment for individuals with autism or other sensory needs. Since its inception, nearly 1,000 individuals have enjoyed the sensory friendly performance of A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas at Hartford Stage.

"This performance has become such a beloved event by our staff and by so many families for which going to the theatre as a family can be a struggle," Jennifer Roberts, Director of Education at Hartford Stage, said. "Over the past five years, we've seen our audiences grow. There's a real need for this kind of event in our community, and while we are proud to have been the first to offer it in Connecticut, we are also thrilled to see other theatres now offering sensory friendly performances, too. The more opportunities that create a welcoming and worry-free environment for families of children with autism and other sensory needs to experience a performance together, the better."

Hartford Stage's sensory friendly performance modifies some of the technical aspects of the traditional Christmas Carol production, as well as the theatre environment, to help make the theatre-going experience safe, friendly and comfortable. Lighting in the theatre remains lit, but dimmed, during the performance to allow safe movement in and out of the theatre. Special-effect haze has been reduced, strobe lights have been removed, and the volume of abrupt and loud sound effects has been adjusted in the performance. Theatre staff, positioned on both sides of the stage, hold up green lanterns to signal audience members when potentially jarring moments in the play are about to happen.

Complimentary sensory support tools such as blankets, stress balls and ear plugs are available for audience members who need them. A designated quiet area in the lower lobby is also available. Trained staff and volunteers are on-hand throughout the performance to offer assistance.

"For those of us who struggle with impulse control, large crowds, or require intermittent breaks, typical theatre-going can appear inaccessible and intimidating. This is the performance where we invite you to come as you are, take breaks if you need to, and experience the multi-faceted magic of this holiday tradition alongside your loved ones," Natalie Pertz, Resident Teaching Artist at Hartford Stage, said.

Free resource materials to help prepare audience members with sensory sensitivities for the performance can be accessed on the Hartford Stage website. The materials include a social story (a visual guide explaining the various social interactions, situations, and behaviors which occur during a theatre visit), character guide and comprehensive performance guide.

A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas is recommended for children ages 8 and older. United Technologies is the exclusive Presenting Sponsor. Support for the sensory friendly performance is provided by The Pryor Foundation. Hartford Stage extends a special thank you to Theatre Development Fund's Autism Theatre Initiative.

Tickets for the sensory friendly performance of A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas are 50 percent off regular ticket prices, starting at $25. To purchase tickets, contact the Hartford Stage Box Office at 860-527-5151 or visit http://www.hartfordstage.org/sensory-friendly.

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