February 14, 2018

McCarter Hosts “Relaxed Performance” Designed for People on Autism Spectrum

To the Editor:

On Saturday, February 3, the popular children’s performer Dan Zanes brought his new sensory friendly folk opera to McCarter to the delight and enjoyment of our audience. This new production, which premiered in December at the Kennedy Center, offered a “Relaxed Performance” concert to an audience of more than 400 people from our community. This marks the sixth season that McCarter has offered a Relaxed Performance for people on the autism spectrum or who have sensory sensitivities and their family members. These productions feature slight adjustments to the lighting, special effects, and music which allows everyone to enjoy the magic of a live performance in a thoughtfully altered environment. Zane’s Night Train 57 is the first time McCarter has presented a Relaxed Performance specifically designed as such. We are grateful to Dan Zanes for creating a joyous, interactive performance for a family audience, many of whom have limited opportunities to enjoy a concert or performance together.

McCarter, in collaboration with five other theatres in the area (Delaware Theatre Company, Montgomery Theater, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, People’s Light, and Theatre Horizon) is working to program more Relaxed Performances, share best practices, and develop a public calendar of these events in the region.

We are grateful for the contributions of JaZams, a beloved local toy store, which provided ‘fidgets’ — small toys for our audience members to quietly fidget with while watching the performance. We also acknowledge our incredible volunteer ushers who received special training for this production.
Finally, we thank The Karma Foundation for their leadership support of these Relaxed Performances at McCarter; they have generously funded this program since its inception. Hundreds of our area’s families have enjoyed a performance together in the last six years through the foundation’s dedication to the community!

Emily Mann

Artistic Director, McCarter Theatre Center