A Christmas Carol

Sensory Friendly Performance
of A Christmas Carol

Saturday, December 3, 2016 | 2:00 pm

Hartford Stage will host a sensory-friendly performance of its annual holiday classic, A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas. Sensory-friendly performances are designed to create a theatre experience that is welcoming to all families of children with autism or other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a sensory-friendly performance?

A. A “sensory-friendly” performance is a theatre production that is modified to accommodate individuals with sensory-input disorders, such as people on the autism spectrum, those with anxiety, and people with a range of cognitive abilities. At this performance, you will notice relaxed “house rules” – people may need to get up, move around, and leave the theatre during the performance. There is no expectation that the audience will be completely quiet during the performance. Our volunteers will be available throughout the performance to help you if you have any questions. A Quiet Room will be available with sensory-friendly toys for anyone who needs a break from the performance. Our goal is to create an environment where people with autism or sensory needs, along with their families, can enjoy coming to the theatre together and will feel comfortable, supported and free to be themselves.

Q. What kinds of changes will be made to the production?

A. The script of A Christmas Carol will not change, but some of the technical elements will be softened to accommodate sensitive ears and eyes. Lights in the audience will be remain lit at a dim level during the entire show to allow safe movement in and out of the theatre. Haze will be reduced and strobe lights will be removed from the production. Abrupt and loud sound effects will be lowered, though some audience members might prefer to use earplugs or headphones. There will be a signal to the audience to warn them that a potentially jarring moment is about to happen, so that caregivers can be ready to help those with sensory sensitivities.

Q. Who should attend this performance?

A. The sensory-friendly performance is specially designed for children and adults with sensory-input disorders, autism, or other developmental or cognitive disabilities, as well as their families and caretakers. We promise a judgment-free, fun experience for the entire family. All children must be accompanied by adult.

Q. Can people without sensory input challenges attend this performance?

A. Yes, all individuals, regardless of their sensory needs, are welcome to attend the performance and to take advantage of the adaptations that a sensory-friendly performance provides. As indicated above, the experience will be different than a traditional performance; changes have been made to both the production and atmosphere in order to create a safe space for people with autism and other sensory-input disorders and their families. All ticket buyers to this performance will be informed of these alterations.

Q. My child/family member/client with autism has difficulty with transitions. Is there anything I can do to prep him/her for this new experience?

A. Hartford Stage has prepared a plot synopsis and social story to help prepare audience members for the experience. We encourage families and caretakers to read the synopsis of A Christmas Carol and use the social story to prepare for the whole theatrical experience, from beginning to end. We will also open the house to the theatre at 12:45 pm, so that those wishing to arrive early to find their seat and meet our volunteers may do so.

Q. What if my child talks or makes noise during the performance?

A. No problem! We expect that there will be noise in the audience. Your child may not be the only one who talks or makes noise. If the noise gets to be too much, you are welcome to step out of the theatre, but this is not necessary. Our volunteers and cast have had training so that they know what to expect in terms of noise and movement in the audience.

Q. If my child/family member is not able to sit through the entire show, will we be able to leave the theater? If we decide to, will we be able to return to our seat?

A. Yes, volunteers will be available to help any travelers to the lobby area. If someone in your family decides they cannot finish the show, you can absolutely leave the theatre early. If they simply need a break, we have a Quiet Room off of our lower lobby.

Q. What is the ideal age range for a child to see A Christmas Carol.

A. We usually recommend the production for ages 9 and up, since there are some elements that can be scary for very young children. However, we realize that every audience member is unique, regardless of their age; only you can determine whether this experience is right for your child.

Q. Can I listen to the music with my child in advance?

A. Yes. All of the music in the production was written by Composer and Sound Designer John Gromada. Selected songs from the production are available on iTunes by searching for John Gromada.

Q. When and where is this show taking place?

A. The sensory-friendly performance is taking place on Saturday, December 3 at 2:00 pm at Hartford Stage. The theatre is located at 50 Church Street, Hartford, CT, 06103. (Map & Directions)

Q. How long is the performance?

A. The performance is about 2 hours long, including one 15-minute intermission.

Q. How can I buy tickets for the sensory-friendly performance?

A. You can buy tickets online or call the Box Office at 860-527-5151.

Q. Where can I park?

A. We recommend that you park in the MAT garage attached to our theatre at 50 Church Street. There are entrances to the garage from both Church Street and Morgan Street. There is accessible parking on the first floor of the garage. To get to Hartford Stage from the garage, exit through the Church Street doors and the theatre will be directly to your right. You may pay a discounted parking fee of $6.50 at our Box Office. There is also limited street parking available around the theatre. Parking on the street is free after 6 p.m. View all parking options.

Q. Are there snacks available at the theatre?

A. We will have snacks, including some gluten-free options, available for purchase. You may also bring your own, though we ask that the food be limited to the lobby area.

Q. Can I bring fidget toys, headphones or other items that help my child/family member stay calm?

A. Of course! We encourage you to bring any items that might make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Our theatre does tend to be chilly, so you may want to bring a sweater or blanket to keep with you at your seat.

Q. Are service animals allowed in the theater?

A. Yes, Hartford Stage always allows service animals to accompany patrons.

Q. I have another question. Who can I contact about the sensory-friendly performance?

A. You can feel free to contact Erin Frederick in our Education Department with any questions! Call 860-520-7244 or email efrederick@hartfordstage.org.  You can also contact our Access Coordinator, Lew Michaels, at 860-520-7132 or lmichaels@hartfordstage.org, with any questions about accessibility needs.