Disney’s hit musical Aladdin is delighted to announce that the Prince Edward Theatre, is the first theatre in the West End to receive an award from The National Autistic Society celebrating its achievements in welcoming autistic guests and their families through training, staff awareness and initiatives such as the hit show’s Autism-Friendly Performances.
Disney works with The National Autistic Society, the UK’s leading charity for autistic people and their families, to deliver the specially staged performances every year which are designed to make the show more accessible for those affected by autism.
The dedicated Autism-Friendly Performances of Aladdin include modifications to the booking process, performance and the theatre environment, including:
- The theatre’s foyer includes 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 audience.
- The cast of Aladdin along with Prince Edward Theatre box office and front of house staff have been given training to understand the needs of an audience made up of adults and children who are autistic.
- A specific website has been set up for this performance, linking to a dedicated booking page. The website includes a downloadable ‘visual story’ 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.
The next dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance of Aladdin will take place at 1.30pm on Tuesday 28 August 2018. Audience members can find out more information and purchase tickets via the link below. Tickets are sold at a specially reduced rate and can be selected on a virtual map of the auditorium.
Nancy Shakerley, Education and Outreach Manager for Disney Theatrical Group, said: “We are extremely proud to have worked closely with our colleagues at the Prince Edward Theatre to achieve the Autism Friendly Award. We are excited to be holding another Autism-Friendly performance again this summer – Autistic guests and their families are, of course, welcome at any performance but we understand that this more relaxed environment is preferable for some guests.”
Chris Pike, Autism Access Specialist at the National Autistic Society, said: “We are delighted that the Prince Edward Theatre is the first theatre in the West End to receive our prestigious Autism Friendly Award. It’s very well deserved.
“There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK, and many struggle to cope with unfamiliar places and everyday sights and sounds which others are able to filter out, such as artificial lighting, background music or traffic noise.
“Autistic people and their families tell us that they would love to visit the theatre, but because of sensory issues and anxiety in unfamiliar surroundings, they are prevented from doing so. Aladdin’s production team have taken great care in adapting the show, including having a ‘visual story’ online which can help autistic people prepare for their visit in advance. This means that for some of the audience on 28 August, this will be the very first time that they are able to experience the thrill of a live performance.”
Graham Bradbury, General Manager of the Prince Edward Theatre, said: “I am delighted on behalf of the team here at the Prince Edward Theatre to receive this award. The award reflects the hard work, dedication and commitment to staff training that everybody undertakes to ensure that the Prince Edward Theatre is an all-inclusive venue offering the very best 5-star customer service possible.”
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK. Although everyone on the autism spectrum is different, people may be under or oversensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours, which can make everyday life extremely challenging. They can also find social situations and unexpected changes a challenge, which can sometimes lead to extreme levels of anxiety.
Aladdin features the timeless songs from the 1992 animated film as well as new music written by Tony®, Olivier© and eight-time Academy Award® winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Little Shop Of Horrors). With lyrics from Olivier Award and two-time Oscar® winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony and Olivier Award, three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida), and four-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), and a book by Beguelin, Aladdin is directed and choreographed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).