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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bulawka and teammates make history for Kelowna Skating Club at nationals

The club returns from a strong showing at the National Skate Championships

Rental costs keep climbing in Kelowna

Between 2018-2019, cost to rent two-bedroom unit in city increased by 9.4 per cent to $1,385

Kelowna’s Fireside Festival nearly sold-out

This year’s festival features the Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Andrew Judah, Little Destroyer and more

Declaration to opt out of speculation tax nears for Central Okanagan residents

Declaration packages will arrive between Jan. 24 and Feb. 21 and must be completed by March 31

UBCO looking for great writers as part of annual Okanagan Short Story Contest

Deadline for submissions quickly approaching on Jan. 31

Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

NHL prospects returning to Penticton for Young Stars Classic

After a one-year absence the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic is returning… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

‘It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible, dark tunnel’

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Break in a “poke in the eye” to Shuswap ski club

Larch Hills Nordics looking at security improvements for chalet

B.C. teacher suspended for poking student in stomach, pulling another’s ponytail

Teacher also swore in classroom, used Facebook to contact students

Larry Walker Jr. and Sr. keeping expectations low for hall-of-fame induction

Walker needs 75 percent of votes in order to be inducted into Cooperstown

Most Read