CONWAY—Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will hold a sensory-friendly performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” 2 p.m. July 5 at Reynolds Performance Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus.
The family-friendly adaptation runs June 28 through July 7. Working in conjunction with UCA’s occupational therapy department, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre designed the July 5 performance to be suitable for those with sensory-processing deficits.
With a cast of just eight people telling a reduced version of this classic tale, “Much Ado About Nothing” is a romantic comedy with the great Shakespearean bickering duo of Beatrice and Benedick at its center. Enrico Spada will make his directorial debut with AST for this touring production.
During the performance, auditory modifications will be made, including lower sound levels and reduction of unexpected noises. Glow sticks will be raised as a forewarning for a loud surprise onstage, and noise-reducing headphones will be available. Bright lighting will be reduced for the duration of the show, and flashing lights will be eliminated. Seating will be onstage on risers, and some seating will be available on the floor.
“We are so thrilled to offer a sensory-friendly version of this show. To those who have family members with autism or sensory-processing difficulties, my message is that we want you here. As a parent of an autistic child myself, I know how challenging it can be to attend events like this. We’re doing our best to make it a little easier for you,” said Paige Martin Reynolds, AST artistic collective member.
Other accommodations include permitting snacks, fidget toys, beverages with a sealed lid, service animals and other calming items during the performance. Audience members can leave their seats during the performance — space will be made available throughout the theater for standing and movement, and there will be a calming zone near the performance area — and audience members will be permitted to return to their seats. Exits will be clearly marked and accessible.
Theatergoers will be greeted by volunteers who will remain available for questions throughout the show; volunteers can be identified by purple sashes and will be stationed throughout the parking lot, lobby and theater. Seats will be limited, as a reduced number of tickets will be available for this show.
Accessible parking is available near and across the street from Reynolds Performance Hall. Those requiring special accommodations such as wheelchair seating are encouraged to contact AST at email@example.com or 501-852-0702 to make advance arrangements.
The sensory-friendly production is made possible through a collaborative grant between the departments of English and the occupational therapy and is funded by the UCA Foundation Inc.
For further questions or to view more details, visit www.arkshakes.com/accessibility.
For tickets or more information about the complete season, call 866-810-0012 or visit www.arkshakes.com.