Sensory Friendly Theatre for Youth and Families

Congratulations to St. Paul's Park Square Theatre/Stepping Stone Theatre on their AwesomeStPaul grant. The theatre will be giving a sensory-friendly performance of The Snowy Day for individuals with autism or other social, learning or cognitive disabilities. We are very pleased to support this project that provides a theatre experience for hundreds of people who otherwise would not be able to attend. Congratulations!

According to Emily Halstead, “The benefits of live theatre are multifaceted, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our youth have been part of online schooling, spending more time isolated and behind a screen. By attending performances, children can learn empathy through others' experiences. When watching a story unfold during a live performance, the audience is placed in a position of walking in the character's shoes for a while. Of additional importance is the vital need for representation, for our BIPOC students to see themselves represented as a director, actor, or storyteller. We are excited to produce The Snowy Day, the first color picture book to have a black main character, during our holiday slot this year.

Attending live theatre can be difficult for many due to sensory processing needs. A “sensory-friendly” performance is a theater production that is modified for individuals with sensory needs. A regular performance may be too loud, too bright or too busy for people with autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorders, anxiety or other cognitive or physical disabilities. Therefore, Park Square Theatre's creative learning team is looking to incorporate sensory-friendly shows into our youth and family series, starting with our December production of The Snowy Day.

1 in 36 Minnesota children are on the Autism spectrum, and we are aiming to make their experience more welcoming and comfortable. We are working with show designers to find ways to adjust lights and sounds in the theatre, with front of house to provide sensory friendly spaces and activities, and marketing to provide social stories and signage which gives advance notice and preparation for attendees.”

Funded by St. Paul, MN (November 2022)