The Verona-based children’s theater group Pushcart Players and the Paper Mill Playhouse have been honored for their work to create a theatrical performance for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. On June 11, the Pushcart Players’ performed a sensory-friendly of its “Stone Soup and Other Stories”, supported by a grant from The Merck Company Foundation. In recognition of its success, the Paper Mill and Pushcart Players were given the 2011 “Innovator Award” on June 23 from the Cultural Access Network of New Jersey, which is sponsored by the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
At the performance, the theater lights remained up, the sound volume was lowered, and children were free to talk and leave their seat under parental supervision. Pushcart Players adapted the script to make it shorter and free of innuendo, sarcasm and body language that are not readily understood by children with autism.
Thanks to the strong response to the performance–more than 300 people attended–Paper Mill and Pushcart Players will present two sensory-friendly performances for the 2011-2012 season: “Let Freedom Ring”, a compilation of American folk songs, on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 10 a.m. and “Red Riding Hood And Other Stories” on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 10 a.m. Tickets for the 2011-2012 Children’s Theater Season are $12 to $20 and go on sale on July 1.