A performance of Disney’s The Lion King is set to be the West End’s first dedicated autism-friendly performance next spring.
Two successful autism-friendly performances of Disney’s musical have already been made on Broadway in 2011 and 2012.
While autism is a spectrum condition and affects each person in a different way, people with autism can have difficulties understanding and relating to other people, and the world around them. Sudden changes in routine or environment can be incredibly frightening and stressful. Sensory issues can also prove problematic: for example a person may dislike bright lights, or may have sensitive hearing and find noise, including background noise, intrusive, distracting or even painful.
As a result, a visit to a musical on the scale of The Lion King, in London’s busiest theatre, the Lyceum, could prove an overwhelming experience.
But the autism-friendly performance will include modifications to booking process, performance and the theatre environment, including:
• The theatre’s foyer will include designated quiet and activity areas; staffed by autism experts 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 facing the audiences
• The cast of The Lion King along with Lyceum Theatre 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 an autism spectrum disorder
• An autism-friendly website and booking system has been set up specifically for this performance.
“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 of Disney Theatrical Productions. “We are so proud to now be presenting the first dedicated autism friendly performance in the West End, enabling new audiences to enjoy the thrill of musical theatre. We thank our creative staff, the National Autistic Society and the Ambassador Theatre Group, whose hard work and dedication helps make it all possible.”
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, added: “Autism is a serious, lifelong disability and the challenges the condition bring can make it difficult to enjoy activities such as trips to the theatre, which many people take for granted. Making adjustments and training staff can make a huge difference. This will be an amazing day out for people with autism and their families.”
To help make this performance as accessible as possible Ambassador Theatre Group, which owns and manages the Lyceum Theatre, has waived their usual booking fees for this performance.
Tickets are on sale now. For more information and booking details go to: www.lionkingautismfriendly.co.uk