Slow and steady wins the race. That’s the storyline behind the whimsical story of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” coming this weekend to the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, courtesy of the Chicago Kids Company.
But the 11 a.m. show on Saturday will deliver a more powerful message: All are welcome, especially people with disabilities.
Saturday’s performance is the first sensory friendly show offered by the Arlington Heights theater. That means lowered sound and lights, a quiet low sensory area and sensory tools, among other accommodations. In doing so, Metropolis officials believe the theater is one of the first in the Chicago suburbs to offer sensory inclusive performances.
“Sensory-inclusive performances create a more welcoming and comfortable theater-going experience for people with autism, sensory processing disorder, and neurodivergent individuals,” Erika Cutlip, told guests at the theater’s gala last spring.
Cutlip is a performer herself and now serves as annual giving officer at Metropolis. In asking guests to support the theater’s Arts for All mission, she reported statistics she learned from suburban educators.
“Public data from Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 states that 21.4% of the student enrollment are children with disabilities and 12% have an Individualized Educational Program (referred to as an IEP),” Cutlip said. “What this means is that one-fifth of of the students in District 25, in Arlington Heights, seek a more inclusive environment that adapts to their needs.”
Major theaters in Chicago already offer these performances, including the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Children’s Theater and the United Center, to name a few, but Metropolis is one of the first in the suburbs.
“These performances are a major opportunity to make the arts accessible to all,” Cutlip said, “as a significant portion of our community members — neighbors, friends, family — may experience the world quite differently than you.”
For ticket information and to learn more about the theater’s commitment to inclusion, visit: metropolis.com.