Lycium Theatre, London – Anna Kennedy OBE was invited by Disney Head Office to attend an Autism Friendly performance of The Lion King at the Lycium on May 4. Disney has been working with the National Autistic Society (NAS) since last year and as Anna Kennedy Online is a charity, Anna and Austin Hughes were asked to drop in on Disney Head Office a couple of months ago to talk about the effort they needed to put into the production to make it autism ‘friendly’
‘…..lessening and removing sudden noises/effects as well as setting up the whole theatre to be more comfortable for families affected by autism.’
Anna Kennedy Online were asked to help promote the event and spread the word.
Anna Kennedy told:
“It is a lovely family show, fabulous costumes and scenery and most of the families enjoyed the experience,a few upsets which is to be expected.”
There were also quiet rooms provided for children when they needed them to ‘dip in and out of’ when necessary.
Anna told us that the children watching the performance were all very relaxed and were allowed to do their own thing. Some parents took bags of tricks to reassure their child including sensory toys, iPads, earphones and snacks. After fifteen minutes, the audience seemed to calm and quieten down and enjoyed the show.
Anna also told us that where she was sitting there was a young girl singing and clapping to all of the songs and behind her one little boy, aged around 6 said after 20 minutes, ‘Ok mum I have been to Lion King now, lets go home,’
Anna Kennedy said:
“Other theatres need to take note and follow suit. Our children should experience wonderful shows like these. Theatres should look at the solution and not the problem!”
Anna then went on to say:
“I met a lovely family sitting in the row in front, Jenny from Essex with her two sons Aged 6 and 4 on the spectrum. They all loved the show and it was the first time Jenny drove to London. Well Done Jenny!”
Anna told that she was a bit overwhelmed at all of the mums coming up to her and saying ‘Are you Anna Kennedy? we follow you keep up with the good work.’
“One mum almost fell over chasing me as I was leaving grabbed my sleeve and gave me a hug.”
Following the performance Anna was tweeted by actor, George Asprey, who played the character of Scar that said:
“@AnnaKennedy1 it was an amazing experience for the cast as well. #AutismAwareness”