The Orpheum Theatre Group’s Family Series for the season opens with a one-of-a-kind show – Celeste. It is set to launch Friday, October 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education. The Orpheum collaborates with Full Spectrum Theatre Initiative to make this a special sensory-friendly performance. The show explores the world of a young girl with a big imagination and her challenges making friends at school.
The Canadian-based Green Thumb Theatre known for creating plays that explore social issues affecting the lives of children, youth, and young adults brings Celeste to enlighten the Memphis audience. It portrays a young girl who is clearly smart, funny, and creative but is being bullied at school for being “different.” Her new found friendship with Martin allows her to celebrate and embrace how everyone is unique.
“Our hope is that the show engages, entertains, and stimulates discussion and perhaps even develop empathy,” notes Patrick McDonald, artistic director of Green Thumb Theatre. When talking about this original production, McDonald mentions that most shows in their 41 year history are a form of social realism, so writers are central to anything they create. Playwrights are encouraged to give voice to how young people think and feel and never condescend to the intended audience.
Celeste in particular deals with the topic of autism. It is an ideal show to begin partnership with Full Spectrum Theatre Initiative, a local initiative that works towards connecting the autism community with the performing arts. Its goal is to help families experience theatre in a safe, judgement-free environment.
“From a technical standpoint, a sensory-friendly show is one that does not include startling, loud sounds or harsh lighting effects that may be jarring to audience with sensory issues,” points out Marques Brown, founder and operator of Full Spectrum Theatre Initiative. He started this initiative to provide families who have children with autism or other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities an opportunity to experience the play in their own way without fear of public reaction or embarrassment.
Families are encouraged to bring any sensory tools such as fidgets or headphones that can help enhance the experience. Come in early to create a calming bottle, a craft activity facilitated by Full Spectrum Theatre Initiative and the Halloran Centre. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
The show is recommended for ages 5 and up. Tickets: $15/person. Group discounts available. For details, go to orpheum-memphis.com or call 525-3000.