“THEATER FOR EVERYONE” SERIES DESIGNED FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM AND OTHER DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
Paper Mill Playhouse, in partnership with Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s premier producer of theater for young audiences, will present the next special engagement in their “Theater for Everyone” Sensory Friendly Series with the live musical
LET FREEDOM RING
WHEN: Saturday, October 22, 10 AM
WHERE: Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn
TICKETS: Reserved tickets are $12-$20.
Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, or at the Paper Mill Box Office on Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at Paper Mill Playhouse’s website: www.papermill.org. Paper Mill Playhouse gift cards, available in any denomination, can be purchased at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted
Designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum or with other developmental disabilities, and planned in cooperation with Autism New Jersey and The Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University, the theater environment will be altered for this performance, providing a sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming for all families. At this unique presentation, theater lights will remain up, sound volume will be lowered and consistent and children will be free to talk and leave their seat under parental supervision. The show will run about one hour with an intermission. "Theater for Everyone" performances are supported by a grant from The Merck Company Foundation.
“It has truly been a transformative experience for me to work on this project which began when a proactive parent of a child with autism contacted Paper Mill Playhouse to ask if we would consider having a performance where she could bring her son," stated Lisa Cooney, Director of Education for Paper Mill Playhouse. "I learned of the ongoing challenges of these loving families who want nothing more for their son or daughter than what any kid has—the freedom to go to Paper Mill Playhouse on a Saturday morning to see a show, without the concern or expectation that their family will be judged by those who do not understand their uniqueness.”
LET FREEDOM RING is a musical celebration of our nation's birth and development using some of America's best loved folk tunes. From the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620 to the Industrialization Revolution at the turn of the 20th Century, this riveting and ultimately true story is about ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary goals. LET FREEDOM RING conveys a sense of "what it was like" to be in that time and place in history; a sense of the courage required to leave the familiar and explore the unknown; and a sense of the legacy of immigrant groups coming to America to contribute to its democratic ideals. In the process of bringing history to life with effortless charm, LET FREEDOM RING provides a unique theater experience for young and family audiences.
Additionally, Paper Mill Playhouse will host a free Open House titled “Meet Your Seat!” on Friday, October 21, 2011 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. This is an opportunity for children who are new to theater experiences to visit the theater space before the show. No reservations are required for the Open House. Resource material will be available including a sequence book, study guide and sing-along prep video. These items may be downloaded or viewed on www.PaperMill.org.
“For over twenty-five years Paper Mill Playhouse has been a national leader in accessibility and is committed to making the live theater experience available to everyone so that they may attend with dignity and independence,” says Paper Mill Playhouse’s Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee. “This special performance enhances our vision that live theater should be accessible to every human being.”
Linda Meyer, Executive Director of Autism New Jersey consulted with Paper Mill staff to design an event that is inclusive and comfortable for all families. “Autism New Jersey is proud to support Paper Mill Playhouse's project, “Theater for Everyone”. Families, all families, will truly be welcomed at this performance. During Autism New Jersey's Listening Tour, we heard parents envision a future where their families are accepted and valued in their local community. Through careful planning and thoughtful accommodations, Paper Mill Playhouse has provided an opportunity for families to share in what many other families take for granted - a family theater experience. The executives and staff of Paper Mill Playhouse are to be commended for identifying a need and diligently and compassionately putting into place all of the essential components to ensure that everyone will enjoy their experience.”
Also advising Paper Mill Playhouse is Maria Arnold, Director of Educational Services of the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University. She states, "Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in the theater industry in New Jersey, has actively embraced the movement to provide opportunities for all people to enjoy live theater. The Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center is proud to be a part of this effort to provide specially designed presentations that will provide a welcoming environment for families having children with special needs, particularly those having autism spectrum disorders."
For this performance Pushcart Players are taking steps to condense and adapt the show’s script to ensure it is literal and free of dramatic devises like innuendo and sarcasm, which are not readily understood by some children with autism or other developmental disabilities. They are also taking steps to equalize the dynamics of the performances to avoid sudden or jarring changes in sound levels. Pushcart Players Managing Director, Stephanie Carr, said, "We were thrilled when Paper Mill first approached us about participating in this type of event. It has always been a part of Pushcart Players' Arts Access Plan to foster an inclusionary attitude in reaching students with developmental, learning and other disabilities by adapting or modifying our programs and related materials to suit the needs of a particular community. This partnership offers a terrific opportunity to expand on this objective by giving kids and their families access to the arts in a way that would not otherwise be available to them.”
Sensory-friendly performances join Paper Mill Playhouse’s full menu of Access services, which include a barrier-free facility; integrated wheelchair seating; infrared listening devices; sign language interpreted, open-captioned, and audio-described performances; large print and Braille programs; and sensory seminars for patrons with vision loss to have the opportunity to touch props and costumes, have a guided tour of the set and hear the actors’ voices before the performance.
PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country’s leading regional theaters. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the generous contributions of numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of Theatre Communications Group, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.