Autism-Friendly Performances

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is proud to present the country's first-ever autism-friendly performance of the timeless holiday classic, The Nutcracker! Below is more information about the performance. 

When? December 27, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.

Where? Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown Pittsburgh

Why are you presenting an autism-friendly performance of The Nutcracker

Part of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's mission is to make our art form accessible to everyone in whatever ways we can. With the growing autism community here in Pittsburgh, there is a definite need and desire for autism-friendly programming, and we are happy to be of service!

How will this performance of The Nutcracker be autism-friendly?

Being autism-friendly is more than just having members of the audience be on the autism spectrum. We are making the entire experience autism-friendly in three main ways:

  • Production
  • Front of House
  • Staff, Dancer, and Volunteer Training

The production will be, for the most part, what you would see if you were to come to any other performance of The Nutcracker. First and foremost. we want the production to retain its artistic integrity and impact on the audience. Some things will be different, however, such as: 

  • lowering sound and light levels so there are no sudden changes
  • eliminating the fire flares that signal Drosselmeyer's magic tricks
  • keeping the house lights at half throughout the performance

Front of house--everything from the lobby to where you are sitting--will likely be where you notice the biggest changes. Some adaptations will include:

  • relaxing of house rules--you are free to get up, move around, and leave whenever you need to
  • use of Ipads and other electronics for therapeutic uses
  • volunteers scattered throughout the theatre to assist and direct you as needed
  • both quiet areas and activity areas in the lobby should your child need a break
  • fidget objects and ear plugs will be available

Everyone--PBT staff, dancers, ushers, and volunteers--will be trained prior to the performance. We are working with many autism experts to make sure that everyone involved understands what autism is and strategies for helping families through this experience. 

How long is the performance?

The performance will be 2 hours and 15 minutes long, including one twenty-minute intermission. 

How can I prepare my child or myself for this experience?

Who can attend the performance?

One very important element of an autism-friendly performance is that the event is a safe space for families and children to come and be who they are. In order to ensure that this safe space is achieved, each group attending the performance must have at least one member be on the autism-spectrum, have a sensory-processing disorder, or have another intellectual or cognitive disability that might benefit from the adaptations and accommodations that we are providing. 

How can I purchase tickets?

Tickets will go on sale on September 3, 2013. Information on how to purchase tickets will be distributed through PBT's partners within the autism community. You will have the option of purchasing tickets online or over the phone. For more information about tickets, please call 412-454-9107. 

How much will tickets cost? 

Thanks to generous support from our community, including the Edith L. Trees Charitable Foundation, we are able to offer these tickets at a discounted rate for families. Patrons will have a range of ticket prices and seating options to choose from, starting at $13.50-$43.75.

Who is supporting this autism-friendly performance?

As we all know, it takes a village! Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre gratefully thanks our generous sponsors: The Edith L. Trees Charitable Trusts, Pitt Ohio, the FISA Foundation, and the Children's Institute. PBT also thanks ABOARD's Autism Connection of PA, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Theatre Development Fund, and many others for their partnership and support!

How can I help Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre with this endeavor?

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will be looking for qualified volunteers (i.e., special education teachers, therapists, etc.) to help the day of the performance. Should you wish to make a donation to PBT to help support the autism-friendly performance, please click on the "Donate" button located in the right-hand column on this web page--and thank you!

*Please note that only people on the autism spectrum or those who are in need of the adaptations and their families and friends will be able to purchase tickets for this performance. Patrons wishing to purchase tickets will be asked three questions before being allowed access to the ticketing page; these questions are to ensure the integrity of the performance and the safe space that PBT strives to create for families at the autism-friendly performance.