Disney UK today announced that its production of The Lion King will hold a dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance on Sunday 4 June 2017 at 1.30pm. This follows the success of previous such performances designed to make the show more accessible for those affected by autism. In line with the announcement they have released a short video here looking at how the Autism-Friendly Performance is created.
Disney’s The Lion King staged the West End’s first dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance in April 2013, working closely with The National Autistic Society, the UK’s leading charity for autistic people and their families. The Lion King has now staged three such performances in London and one in Edinburgh during the show’s UK tour.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, including an estimated 700,000 people in the UK. Although everyone on the autism spectrum is different, people may be under or oversensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours, which can make everyday life extremely challenging. They can also find social situations and unexpected changes a challenge, which can sometimes lead to extreme levels of anxiety.
Understandably, a visit to a musical on the scale of The Lion King in London’s busiest theatre could prove an overwhelming experience for a significant number of people in the UK who are autistic.
These dedicated Autism-Friendly Performances of The Lion King include modifications to the booking process, performance and the theatre environment, including:
• The theatre’s foyer includes designated quiet and activity areas; staffed by experts in autism throughout the performance should anyone need to leave their seats
• Slight adjustments are made to the performance itself, including the reduction of jarring sounds or strobe lighting that face the audience
• The cast of The Lion King along with Lyceum Theatre box office and front of house staff have been given training to understand the needs of an audience made up of adults and children who are autistic
• A specific website has been set up for this performance, linking to a dedicated booking page. The website includes a downloadable ‘visual story’ to help people with autism understand the process of a visit to the theatre, thus aiding their comprehension of the experience and reducing anxiety by explaining each step from arriving in the foyer to the final curtain call
Audience members can find out more information and purchase tickets at www.lionkingautismfriendly.co.uk. Tickets are sold at a specially reduced rate and can be selected on a virtual map of the auditorium.
Disney’s award-winning musical The Lion King is now in its 18th triumphant year at London’s Lyceum Theatre. Since the UK premiere in London on Tuesday 19th October 1999, the show has entertained over 13 million theatregoers and remains the West End’s best-selling stage production. It is currently the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time. Tickets are currently on sale until 30th April 2017 for individuals and 1st October 2017 for groups.
Julie Taymor’s internationally-celebrated stage adaptation of Disney’s beloved animated film premiered on Broadway in 1997 and has now been seen by more than 85 million people across six continents. Nine productions are running concurrently around the globe. In addition to the record-breaking productions in London and New York, The Lion King can currently be seen in Hamburg, Madrid, Tokyo, Mexico City, Shanghai, Scheveningen and on tour across North America.