Works at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts introduces a new Sensory Friendly
Program intended to make its performances accessible for patrons with sensory
(April 16, 2015) Theater Works at the Peoria Center for the
Performing Arts (PCPA) will host its first sensory friendly performance in
conjunction with the YouthWorks production of A Year with Frog and Toad
on Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 2pm. This
unique, enjoyable performance will be adapted for people of all ages with
Sensory integration difficulties or sensory sensitivity affects many
people with different types of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
They have difficulty processing
everyday sensory information such as sounds, sights and smells.
The sensory friendly performance of Frog
and Toad will be presented by its regular cast and production team,
however it will adapt special features to the show including: dimmed house
lights instead of complete darkness, adjusted stage lights, reduced sound
levels, a quiet room and extra ushers to help facilitate other needs.
Patrons will be able to meet the actors after the show.
A “Greet Your Seat” open house event will take place on
Saturday, April 25th from 10am to 12pm. This is an opportunity for patrons who are new to theater
experiences to visit the theater space before the show. No reservations
are required for the open house. Special resource materials will be
available; these include: a social story, study guides and a parent/guardian tip
Chris Hamby, Theater
Works’ Director of Education and Outreach realized the significant need for
performing arts sensory programming during a presentation at ASU by the
Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC).
He began researching avenues to develop such a program at Theater Works.
“A Year with Frog and Toad is an
enchanting tale full of life lessons that people of all ages and levels can
relate to and it seemed like the perfect production to integrate with sensory
friendly programming,” says Hamby.
“Many people hesitate to attend live
theater because they do not know how individuals with sensory needs might react.
Our objective is for families and guardians to see Theater Works’ Sensory
program as a safe and accepting environment to enjoy
live theater,” continues
Hamby. “There are a few theaters outside Arizona, such as the Paper Mill
Playhouse in New Jersey and Dallas Children’s Theater in Texas that have very
successful live theater accessibility programs.”
Theater Works has
longtime relationships with Valley programs such as One Step Beyond (OSB) whose
objective is to provide developmentally challenged individuals a life of
fulfillment. Another important
collaboration is with the City of Peoria Adaptive Program, whose participants
perform at Theater Works yearly for their “Shining Stars” performances.
former CEO for OSB and current Project Team Lead for Treasure House, a new West
Valley development that will be home to 24 young adults with intellectual and
developmental disabilities, says, “Everyone
has sensory sensitivity. Some have heightened sensitivity
because of a physical or developmental condition. Consider the sound of an
emotionally intense music score or dialogue or the sight of abruptly
flashing theater lights. The
producers of “Frog & Toad” have researched and intentionally developed a production that seeks
to welcome, comfort, and encourage interaction with patrons who have heightened
With more than 3.5
million Americans living with an autism spectrum disorder (Buescher et al., 2014), Theater Works realizes there is a need and wants to meet it.
For more information
on the Sensory Performance of A
Year With Frog and Toad or to buy tickets, call the Theater
Works Box Office at 623.815.7930 Monday - Friday 10am to 4pm or visit www.theaterworks.org.
Theater Works, at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is entering its 30th season of providing exceptional theater to the West Valley. As a destination, it features more then 200 events a year including: live theater, classical concerts, jazz, popular music, dance, comedy, cultural events, festivals, youth and adult education classes and much more. Theater Works is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, call the Box Office at 623.815.7930 or visit www.theaterworks.org.
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