Broadway actor defends autistic child who disrupted ‘The King and I’ performance

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actor Takes Compassionate Stand After Child With Autism Disrupts Show.

An ensemble member of Broadway’s revival of The King and I is speaking out in support of a woman who’s child disrupted a matinee performance of the show on Wednesday and was compelled to leave the theater after audience complaints. The use of cellphones, the rustling of candy wrappers, and audible murmuring are some of the worst transgressions audience members can make during live theater performances in New York City.

Amid shushes and boos, the mother tried to remove her child from the theater, but he or she gripped a railing and continued shrieking. “Not everybody out there is out to cast a judgmental eye,” he said. “There are people out there who genuinely help and would be happy to share the experience with you and your family.” Loh acknowledged that his defense of an audience interruption might seem atypical of a performer. One of the understudies in the production, Kelvin Moon Loh, said that the youth, whom he described as autistic, caused a disruption during a particularly intense whipping scene during the performance. The actor has received overwhelming social-media kudos from parents of special-needs kids, social workers, and even apologetic theatergoers accustomed to grumbling at disruptions. Apropos of his experience, Lincoln Center’s education division recently commissioned a new immersive theater production, “Up and Away,” specifically designed for children on the autism spectrum. Plainly wrong.” The actor went on to express his frustration with the audience’s response. “What they didn’t see was a mother desperately pleading with her child as he gripped the railing refusing — yelping more out of defiance.

In a post on his Facebook page, he shined a light on efforts to make theater more inclusive and lauded the woman, who he assumed was the child’s mother, as brave. Instead, I ask you — when did we as theater people, performers and audience members become so concerned with our own experience that we lose compassion for others? “The theater to me has always been a way to examine/dissect the human experience and present it back to ourselves. He said that there had been no disruptions from the child until that moment – two and a half hours into the three hour show. “For her to bring her child to the theater is brave. Today, something very real was happening in the seats and, yes, it interrupted the fantasy that was supposed to be this matinee but ultimately theater is created to bring people together, not just for entertainment, but to enhance our lives when we walk out the door again. “It so happened that during ‘the whipping scene,’ a rather intense moment in the second act, a child was heard yelping in the audience.

You don’t know what her life is like,” he said. “Perhaps, they have great days where he can sit still and not make much noise because this is a rare occurrence. Not more than one week earlier, during the same scene, a young girl in the front row- seemingly not autistic screamed and cried loudly and no one said anything then. I was heartbroken to know that she might never know that as a company (I must applaud my cast and crew) we continued the show and we were not bothered,” he said.

Hopefully this inclusive, compassionate attitude spreads within the fine arts community, allowing families of all sorts to enjoy creative performances together without discrimination. The actor told he’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for his stance on the incident from around the world and said he “had no idea” that he could reach so many people. He said in the Facebook post that he believed shows that have special performances for autistic audiences should be commended for their efforts and that he hoped the woman would see his post.

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