September 30, 2021
Penn State Centre Stage offers first-ever sensory-friendly performances
Penn State Centre Stage is presenting the University’s first-ever sensory-friendly performances as part of its production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” They are scheduled for Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. and Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Playhouse Theatre. The production, which opens Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 9, will be the first show in Penn State Centre Stage’s return to live theatre since March 2020. The Tony Award-winning play adapted by Simon Stephens is based on the novel written by Mark Haddon. The lead character, Christopher Boone, is a 15-year-old with autism who sets out to investigate the murder of his neighbor’s dog. Because the play focuses on the life of a neurodivergent teenager, School of Theatre Director Rick Lombardo said it is crucial to make engaging in live theatre possible for all audience members. “We felt it was exceptionally important while we were doing this play to create as much access as possible for folks in the community who may also be neurodivergent,” said Lombardo, who is directing the play. Despite having offered audio description and American sign language performances in the past, this is the first time Penn State will present sensory-friendly performances. During these performances, there will be lower sound levels, adjusted lighting cues, designated quiet areas and extra staff for support. Ultimately, Lombardo said it will be a theatre where conventional rules don’t apply, which will allow patrons to talk and leave their seats during the performance and use electronic devices. College of Arts and Architecture Dean B. Stephen Carpenter II said that patrons of the arts at Penn State can expect similar experiences in the future, which will move forward the college’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
If we are truly committed to being inclusive, we will consider and then act on ways to make our performances, exhibitions and other content available to all audiences, regardless of the conventions that might be assumed to limit or frame our work,"