Community Living BC employee Andrea Hryciw, Wizard of Oz assistant director Astrid Varnes, stage manager Nedine Scott and her brother Brandon discuss the relaxed performance which the Wizard of Oz cast and crew will be putting it on. (Jim Elliot/ Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm theatre reduces barriers with inclusive opening of Wizard of Oz

Relaxed conventions open experience to people with autism, dementia, sensory disorders

Barb Brouwer

Contributor

People with special needs often struggle to be included in community.

With this in mind, Shuswap Theatre is offering a relaxed performance of The Wizard of Oz.

Co-director Astrid Varnes says theatre normally involves some fairly strict conventions – audience members sit down in the dark with people they don’t know, which is impossible for some people.

“We’re relaxing some of the conventions that go with the theatre experience; the performance doesn’t change, it’s the environment, the things that accompany actors that are different,” says Varnes, noting the volume will be lower, house lights will remain on, albeit lower than normal, and abrupt shifts in lights, sounds, and effects will be limited. “The big thing is that expectations are relaxed, that it’s OK to call out or stand up and leave.”

Lobby doors may be opened early to allow for a more calm, casual entry to the building and an opportunity to become familiar with exits and washrooms. As well, there will be a relief space in the lobby for those who feel overwhelmed, or who would prefer to continue watching the performance via video stream.

The date for a tour of the theatre will be set prior to the performance will be announced in order for patrons to become familiar with the building.

“One of the company members had a brother with Down syndrome who is afraid of the dark, so he had never been to one of her shows,” Varnes says. “It is so meaningful to her that her brother will be able to attend the Wizard off Oz because of the relaxed performance.”

Read more: Musicians wanted to play adventurous travellers along yellow brick road

Read more: Lion, Scarecrow, flying monkeys and more needed for journey down yellow brick road

Read more: Slamming doors punctuate riotous Shuswap Theatre offering

Andrea Hryciw, a facilitator with Community Living British Columbia, the government funding body that supports organizations like the Shuswap Association for Community Living, was a consultant for the relaxed performance.

“Inclusion in community is the goal,” she says. “It makes their world a little big bigger and lets them feel welcome in all parts of the community, including the theatre.”

Only 145 tickets are available for the relaxed show, which takes place at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, December 1 and Varnes asks that most patrons, including families with children over four, attend one of the regular performances.

“One of the things we know about people with diverse abilities is that cost can be a barrier, so we’re trying to find a way to reduce the costs for this performance,” says Hryciw. “We know the same barrier exists for others so we encourage them to attend “pay what you can Thursdays.”

The Wizard of Oz runs from Friday, Nov. 22 to 24, Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 and Dec. 5 to 8. Evening performances are at 7 p.m. for this production and Sunday matinees take place at 1:30 p.m.

Tickets go on sale on Oct. 1 and are available online and at Entwined Fibre Arts at 161 Hudson Ave.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Vernon Pee Wee Vipers blitz Penticton

Teigan Kelly scores three times as home side rolls to 9-4 minor hockey league victory

PHOTOS: Pumpkins big – really big – and small invade Armstrong IPE Grounds

Pumpkin launch and biggest pumpkin contest among highlights of 19th annual Harvest Pumpkin Festival

Vernon columnist seeks stories for potential book

Carole Fawcett of The Morning Star’s Boomer Talk column wants to hear from boomers and seniors

North Okanagan Knights split with Summerland

Each team record KIJHL victories on home ice in weekend home-and-home series

Vernon Vipers avenge mid-week loss to Chilliwack

Vipers roll to 4-1 BC Hockey League victory Saturday on home ice

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Boats once plied Okanagan Lake

Lake was used as transportation corridor connecting communities in the valley

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

Most Read