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GUEST POST: Oklahoma! Autism Part 3

Autism-Friendly Performance of “Oklahoma” at The Boston Conservatory – October 20 at 2 p.m.
I am delighted to share this wonderful news with all of you: The Boston Conservatory will present an Autism-Friendly performance of the musical “Oklahoma” on Sunday, October 20 at 2 p.m. in the Boston Conservatory Theater at 31 Hemenway Street, Boston, MA 02115.

For information about the performance, please visit: The website includes a video to help prepare individuals on the autism spectrum for the performance, as well as a social story, a plot synopsis, and a character guide. It also explains the ways that the performance and the environment will be altered in order to make the entire experience Autism-Friendly.

This very special event is sponsored by The Boston Conservatory in conjunction with its Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum. For more information on that program, please visit:

We would like this performance to be a sell-out! Please pass this information along to friends and colleagues who will be interested. Please purchase your tickets now!
Ticketing Information:
Tickets for this performance are currently on sale.
Access Code: okAFP13
Pricing: Adult - $20.00
               Students - $10.00

Instructions for purchasing tickets:
2. Scroll down and select “BUY TICKETS.”
3. Enter access code – okAFP13
4. Select your seats - seats that you select will change from green to yellow - then press "OKAY"
5. Under the column labeled "type" select whether your tickets will be Adult or Student/Child (the default is set to Adult).
6. Select a delivery option - Hold at Will Call (box office) or Print at Home
8. Enter your information (all of the red boxes must be filled in)
9. Press "Submit"
To Pick Up Tickets:
If a patron selected to have their tickets at the box office will call window, the box office will open 1 hour before the show on Sunday for pick up. Bring an ID.

Regular box office hours are Monday-Friday (Noon-5 p.m.) beginning Monday, September 9. If you wish to purchase tickets for this performance over the phone, please contact Olivia Levering, Audience Services Manager, directly at (617) 912-9142.

Please pass the word along – we want to fill the house for this extraordinary event!

How the Autism-Friendly Performance of “Oklahoma” Came to Be
Over a year ago, Kim Haack, our Director of External Relations at The Boston Conservatory, emailed me a YouTube video of an NBC Nightly News story about the Theater Development Fund in New York and the autism-friendly performance that they presented on Broadway’s “The Lion King.” Kim’s message said, “We should do this – let’s talk!” After watching the video, I was so excited about this idea that I scheduled a meeting with Kim right away. From there, we began the process of planning and working towards this event.

Kim and I brought the idea to various constituencies at the Conservatory, all the way up to the President, Richard Ortner. Everyone who heard about the idea supported it. It was just a question of finding the right show and making it happen. We wanted to be sure that we could provide the best experience possible for children and families with individuals on the spectrum. To that end, I surveyed the families in our Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum and learned that a Sunday matinee was the best timing for such an event.

When we put together the production schedule for “Oklahoma,” it was crafted as two weekends (usually our shows run in one weekend) so that we could devote the Sunday matinee to this purpose. Once the production schedule was set, Kim and I began meeting with other people at the Boston Conservatory to take care of planning. We met with folks from the Theater Division, the Production Department, the Marketing Department, and the Institutional Advancement Office, as well as others in Audio/Visual and the Box Office. Together we have come up with timelines and tasks to support this event. Kim also went to New York and created a partnership with the Theater Development Fund so that they can support our efforts.

Creating Materials for the Website
Thanks to the assistance of Victoria LaRiccia, special educator and consultant for the Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum, we put together several preparatory items that are on our website, including
A social story
A video orienting viewers to the theater and the experience of seeing a show
A plot summary
Character outlines
Special information for ticket buyers

These materials have proved extremely helpful to individuals wishing to know more about the production.

Plans for Workshops and Training
The next step, now that the cast of the show has been identified, will be to provide training and support to them so that they have a sense of what to expect during the production. The house will not be quiet – people will be walking through the aisles, making noise, moving around, and so on. We will be changing some small aspects of the production so that they are not difficult sensorially for this population. There will be fidgets, a quiet room, and house lights will be slightly on – all to make the performance and the environment more welcoming to individuals on the autism spectrum.

The house will be staffed with people who are trained to work with this population – mostly staff members and instructors from the Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum – and we will also have an EMT on site at the performance.

Spreading the Word
Our current efforts at spreading the word are reaching far and wide. I am traveling to several conferences and events to bring information about this performance. I am also mailing and emailing numerous contacts and lists to put the information out there. Tickets are selling – and we want to sell out! Please help us spread the word and let people know about this performance. We hope to provide additional autism-friendly performances in the future, from Theater, Dance, and Music. The lessons we learn next month will make those performances even better.

Until next time,


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