Friday, April 9, 2021

Two River Announces Activities & Resources for Autism Acceptance Month

According to Autism™ New Jersey, New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the nation: 1 in 32 children. Like many, art is being used as an outlet for self-expression. Art and theater arts prove to be extremely impactful in improving fine motor skills, cognitions, visual and spatial discrepancies.


To honor Autism Acceptance Month, Two River Theater is announcing its lineup of live events, resources and activities scheduled for the month of April.  


During regular season programming, Two River Theater offers Relaxed Performances that are designed to provide a welcoming and judgement-free theater experience where usual theater etiquette ‘rules’ do not apply. For those that have difficulty sitting still in a theater seat, like to verbally respond during a performance or have sensitivity issues or special needs, these performances are the perfect fit. Small adjustments are made to lighting and sound and a designated quiet activity and relaxation area is provided within the theater. Two River also offers theater classes to organizations who serve people on the autism spectrum and/or with special needs through the Spectrum Theater Residency program. Since all activity so far this season has moved to a virtual platform, the theater is offering free online resources and activities including weekly theater exercises, a live Facebook story time, and a joyful resource round table for family, friends and students.


We miss sharing space with our students and patrons on the autism spectrum,” says Director of Education Kate Cordaro, “so these theater exercises and events are a way to connect with our imaginations, emotions, and each other. We hope to share some moments of joy and inspiration throughout the month.”




Pantomime Pass where you will explore your senses with Teaching Artist Maria Paduano (right), by channeling the actor's process of using their props to tell a story! Warm up with a touch exploration of a room and everything in it, discovering it through a sense of touch. Then partner up for a passing game using your imagination.


Let’s Take a Walk, an exploration game with Teaching Artist Amanda Butterbaugh, taking a walk through a snowy, wintry day  without leaving your room. This can be played at any age, and with any number of friends. All you need is your imagination!

Feeling Photos, a time to expand your actor's toolkit through feelings, body language, and facial expressions with Teaching Artist Maria Paduano, and enjoy a little facial massage while you're at it!


Characters with Hats, a character development game with Teaching Artist Amanda Butterbaugh (left), using hats to bring all sorts of characters to life.


Katie's Craft Corner—DIY Rainstick Inspired by the "Let's Take a Walk" theater exercise, we invite you to create a rainstick to take along with you on a nice Spring walk. See instructions here:

All of these exercise videos can be found on Two River’s webpage 







Join teaching artist and actor Amanda Butterbaugh as she shares Sally J. Pla’s tender story about siblings. Nothing seems to be going right for Sammy and when he gets home from school, he finds his autistic little brother Benji is having a bad day too. On days like this, Benji has a special play-box where he goes to feel cozy and safe. Sammy doesn’t have a special place, and he’s convinced no one cares how he feels or even notices him. But somebody is noticing, and may just have an idea on how to help Sammy feel better.

Recommended for ages 5-8.





There are a multitude of ways to connect the arts to individuals on the Autism spectrum, and many exciting regional companies and artists creating this work. A chance to gather and share joy and resources, this roundtable brings together artists, parents, educators, and more for a discussion (and celebration!) of the exciting work underway. They will also explore how theater, dance, fine art, and other art forms can be especially meaningful for individuals on the spectrum as well as their loved ones.

Featured in this roundtable are Education and Community Engagement Manager Amanda Espinoza, parent and founder of The Calm Within the Chaos Jane Kleiman, and Bluelaces Theater Company Co-Artistic Director Devin Fletcher. This discussion is open to parents, teachers, artists, and more. Participants will be encouraged to share what art has brought them joy, and what they’ve found to be particularly engaging in their families or classrooms.


For more information, visit: 



Two River Theater’s 2020/21 Season Sponsor is Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center. 


Two River Theater is supported in part by public support through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Private support includes the Mary Owen Borden Foundation, Denholtz Properties, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, Investors Foundation, Jewish Communal Fund, Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The John Ben Snow Memorial Trust, Springpoint Senior Living Foundation at The Atrium at Navesink Harbor, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, Wells Fargo Foundation, and many other generous foundations, corporations and individuals.

Two River Theater produces a theatrical season that includes American and world classics, new plays and musicals, programs for young people, and festivals of new work. Each year, we also offer 40+ events that reflect our diverse community of Red Bank, New Jersey. Two River produces work on two stages—the 350-seat Rechnitz Theater, and the flexible 110-seat Marion Huber Theater. The theater’s recently opened Center for New Work, Education and Design is a three-story facility that includes two rehearsal studios, artist labs, classrooms, expanded shops and centrally located offices. Two River Theater has commissioned and premiered original projects including Be More Chill by Tony Award nominee Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz (the theater’s first Broadway production) and Hurricane Diane by Playwright-in-Residence Madeleine George (which won an Obie Award for its Off-Broadway run). In June 2019, Two River was nationally recognized by USA TODAY as one of “10 great places to see a play” across the U.S. Two River serves thousands of students and community members through arts and humanities programs at the theater, in schools and throughout its region. Two River Theater is led by Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst.