Education Holiday Events

Hartford Stage welcomes new audiences to A Christmas Carol with Community Night and a Sensory-Friendly Performance

By Erin Frederick, Education Enrollment and Marketing Coordinator

Bill Raymond and the Children of A Christmas Carol. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Bill Raymond and the Children of A Christmas Carol. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Each year at Hartford Stage, we welcome thousands of families into the theatre to experience our annual production of A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas. This beloved production brings to life Charles Dickens’ classic tale of redemption through thrilling special effects, stunning production design and intimate performances. This show is many young theatregoers’ first experience with live theatre, and the Hartford Stage education department is actively involved in reaching out and making this show accessible for new families.

14TH ANNUAL COMMUNITY NIGHT BENEFIT

The education department will kick off the holiday season on November 30, when they welcome close to 500 children and members of the Hartford community to their 14th annual Community Night Benefit Performance of A Christmas Carol. On this special night, the audience members are welcomed to a joyous celebration of the holiday season, including a free performance, complimentary hot cocoa, a special souvenir, and the opportunity to meet and get autographs from the cast members following the performance.

For many audience members, this event is their first experience seeing a live performance onstage, and we are proud to welcome them to our theater and to welcome them into the Hartford Stage family. Past participating organizations have included the Boys and Girls Club of Hartford, Guilford Youth and Family Services, the Hispanic Health Council in Hartford, Mercy Housing and Shelter Corporation in Hartford, South Park Inn and Homeless Shelter in Hartford, True Colors, Inc. of Hartford, and the YWCA of New Britain.

3RD ANNUAL SENSORY-FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE

Guests at our Sensory-Friendly performance of A Christmas Carol

Guests at our Sensory-Friendly performance of A Christmas Carol.

Following the Community Night performance, Hartford Stage will welcome more new families to the theatre during our 3rd annual sensory-friendly performance of A Christmas Carol on Saturday, December 3 at 2:00 pm. This performance is modified to accommodate individuals with sensory-

input challenges such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, those with anxiety, and people with a wide range of cognitive abilities. The production itself – the script, characters, and action onstage – remains unchanged, but some of the technical elements are softened to accommodate sensitive eyes and ears. House lights remain lit at a low level, strobe effects are removed, and jarring sound effects are softened or removed.

The performance also features relaxed “house rules” – people may make noise as needed, get up, move around, and leave the theatre as needed throughout the performance, all without the worry of judgement. To help calm nerves about the performance, preparatory materials such as a performance guide and character guide are available to download from our website. Audience members are also welcome to arrive at the theater early to “meet their seat” and get used to the environment before the performance. Closer to the start of the show, the cast members who portray the spooky Apparition characters in the play will mingle with the audience, explaining their costumes and answering questions about the production. During the performance, audience members are welcome to take a break in a peaceful Quiet Room off of the main lobby, or to relieve anxiety in their seats with the help of a complimentary fidget toy.

For information on the Community Benefit performance, please email Education@hartfordstage.org. For information, to view our performance and character guides, or to purchase tickets to the sensory-friendly performance, please visit www.hartfordstage.org/sensory-friendly or call (860) 527-5151.