The Globe Theatre is putting on a first-of-its kind show on Saturday.
The performance will be a relaxed and audio described show for their production run of The Little Mermaid.
“It’s a performance where we’ve created a social story for people that are on the autism spectrum so they know what to expect throughout the show,” said CEO and Artistic director, Ruth Smillie. “The show is also for people who have little children that would talk or if you’re someone on the spectrum and you tend to vocalize, this is a performance where no one is going to shush you.”
Features of the show include low lighting, compared to a normal performance where all of the house lights are off. Also, the performers know that outbursts may happen or people might get up and leave during the show which Smillie said, is perfectly okay.
“This is the one where we’re open and easy about everything!”
The audio description portion is for people who are blind or partially sighted. The theatre has brought in an audio describer along with the technology and headsets for people to listen to what’s going on, on stage.
“The describer speaks into a silencer microphone and he describes the action that’s taking place on the stage that is not apparent through dialogue, or you wouldn’t know what was happening just because of the dialogue,” Smillie said. “He’ll speak in-between lines and between versus of the songs.”
Smillie said the idea came about from a long time student at the theatre, Max Anderson, who has been in the theatre program for 10 years.
She said Anderson is on the spectrum and through improvisation he developed all of the skills that people with autism are supposed to find difficult, if not impossible. Smillie said Anderson has since become a teacher at the school.
“He(Anderson) came to us and said ‘since improv was so important to me in regards to my own development, would it be possible to create a new program called Improv for Autism for people on the spectrum’,” said Smillie.
The program now runs for 10 months throughout the year, and has continued for the past three years. Since it’s been running, the Globe Theatre has become close with the Autism Resource Centre, and collaborated with them to create a relaxed performance.
“We wanted to be inclusive of people of all abilities and this is just another way to do that.”