LENOX, Mass. (NEWS10) — Shakespeare & Company will stage its first sensory-friendly performance of the Bard’s “Romeo and Juliet” on Saturday, March 25 at 2 p.m. The show will be directed by Kevin G. Coleman at the Tina Packer Playhouse.
Sensory-friendly performances have been adapted to be less overwhelming to the senses. They are designed to welcome individuals with various sensory needs, including people on the autism spectrum, those living with cognitive, social, or physical challenges, first-time theatergoers, and others.
A more comfortable environment is created through modifications to the performance space. These often include reduced-intensity lighting and sound effects; dimmed house lights for the duration of the performance; pre-show materials that include story synopses, theater maps, and other “what to expect” content; and opportunities to visit the theater the day before the performance to become familiar with the space.
Shakespeare & Company’s Education Tour and Professional Development Manager Kaitlin Henderson explained that the company hopes to use these performances as a starting point for further accessibility options at all shows. “We are thrilled to be able to offer more accessible performance opportunities to our community, and we hope to adopt some of these practices in our performance season moving forward,” she said.
She added that this sensory-friendly performance features the cast of the 2023 Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare, currently touring Romeo and Juliet across New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. The tour will return to the Berkshires on Saturday, April 22, for an open-captioned performance at Shakespeare & Company, complete with “super captions” projected above the stage.
Both the sensory-friendly and open-captioned performances of Romeo and Juliet are supported by a grant from the GKV Foundation. The Northeast Regional Tour is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.