Jeremy Lawrence reflects on a sensory-friendly “Christmas Carol”

We’re proud to offer a sensory-friendly performance of “A Christmas Carol” on December 17 at 11 AM, for which we lessen special effects, provide quiet areas and ensure a judgment-free environment. Read on for reflections on this unique performance from actor Jeremy Lawrence, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge, and be sure to check out our official guide for more details on what to expect at the show.

I am no expert, but like most people, I have had the opportunity to interact with a remarkable autistic individual. I was the baby-sitter for many years, from childhood to the verge of adolescence, to the son of friends of my parents. In those years, I had the chance to enter his world. I may be wrong in saying this, but autism seems to me simply a different way of perceiving the world. And that is exactly what theatre does. We distort the world for our own purposes, sometimes to make the world seem habitable for the imagination of the play in which we are appearing.

SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH A DIFFERENT LENS

We, as actors, have the exhilaration of entering an imaginary world through our acting techniques. We become characters we never dreamed of being. We get to be in worlds in which our lives will never give us the opportunity to live. We create a universe of a playwright’s imagination and of our own. It is a world of art, which for an artist is a world in which we feel better equipped to live than the far more stressful unscripted world where our performance is determined by factors outside of our control and expectations.

SHARING THE LINK BETWEEN THE ARTS AND AUTISM

I am perhaps stretching it to say our act of reimagining ourselves is related to the adjustment an autistic individual makes to function in what we call the “real” world, but it is not unrelated. They are both artistic leaps of imagination and behavior. I like to feel that the sensory-friendly performance is a shared link. I would hope perhaps that the story of a person who was confronted by visions of his imagination that made him a person who could better live with himself and others was something that would resonate with the autistic people in the audience. It certainly means a lot to me to have this opportunity to include this wonderfully special audience in my performance, to speak to them across the footlights. Some were indeed speaking back to us. I would only hope that someday I will be able to listen to and hear what they have to say to me about what they saw.

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