McCarter Theatre thanks supporters of relaxed performance for people on the autism spectrum

Dear Editor:

On Saturday, April 29th, the popular children’s music artist Laurie Berkner appeared at McCarter Theatre to deliver a special acoustic “relaxed performance” concert to an audience of more than 400 people from our community. This marks the fifth season that McCarter has offered a relaxed performance for people on the autism spectrum or who have sensory sensitivities and their family members.

Relaxed performances feature slight adjustments to the lighting, special effects, and music which allows for everyone to enjoy the magic of a live performance in a thoughtfully altered environment.

We are grateful to Laurie Berkner for creating a joyous, interactive morning performance for a family audience, many of whom have limited opportunities to enjoy a concert or performance together.

Last May, McCarter—in collaboration with five other theatres in the area—was awarded a theatre communications group cohort grant that will allow this “cohort” of theaters to program more relaxed performances, share best practices, and develop a public calendar of relaxed performance events in the region. These grants often have a seismic impact on the participating theatres, as well as the field at large, by building audiences through projects that lead to new, more frequent, and increased theatre attendance and community participation.

We are also grateful for the contributions of Jazams, who provided fidgets — small toys for audience members to quietly fidget — while enjoying Laurie’s music. We also acknowledge our incredible volunteer ushers who received special training for this performance.

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 five years through the foundation’s dedication to the community.

We look forward to serving our community in this way for years to come.


Timothy J. Shields
Managing Director, McCarter Theatre Center

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