Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Autism friendly performance of The Lion King to take place at London theatre

Lion KingA second autism friendly performance of Disney’s The Lion King will take place in May at the Lyceum Theatre in London, it has been announced.

The Lyceum staged the West End’s first-ever dedicated autism-friendly performance in April 2013, again with The Lion King. Working closely with The National Autistic Society (NAS), and following a 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.

A visit to a musical on the scale of The Lion King, in London’s busiest theatre, could prove an overwhelming experience for some people with autism who have sensory differences.

To mitigate this, the 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 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 autism
• An autism-friendly website and booking system has been set up specifically for this performance.

Further reading: Mr Peabody and Sherman, The Lego Movie and Moshi Monsters to be March’s Autism Friendly Films

“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 NAS, added: “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.”

The autism friendly performance will take place on Sunday May, 4 at 1:30pm. Tickets are on sale now.

For more information and to buy tickets go to: 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.

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