Sensory Friendly Performances

Learn more:

A Sensory Friendly performance is a theater production that welcomes individuals with sensory needs, including people on the autism spectrum, as well as first-time theatergoers and young children. The show is modified to allow for patron movement, staff and actors are trained to accommodate patron needs, and all patrons are welcome to experience theater in a safe, non-judgmental environment.


Environmental adjustments to create a friendly, supportive environment, as well as alterations to the performance, include:

  • The house lights will remain dimmed during the performance, rather than completely off
  • The intensity of lighting and sound effects will be reduced
  • A staffed quiet area will be available in the lobby for children who need to take a break from the show
  • There will be a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere where patrons can feel comfortable during the performance and enter or exit the theater during the performance, with the assistance of ushers
  • Trained volunteers will be on hand to assist with patron needs
  • Tablets and smartphones will be permitted to help non-verbal audience members communicate
  • Adjustments will be made to the script and acting to maximize comprehension of the story

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where is this show taking place?

The sensory friendly performance of Thumbelina: A Little Musical will take place on December 30 at 2PM at the Loeb Drama Center. The sensory friendly performance of Gloria: A Life will take place on February 29, 2020, at 2PM at the Loeb Drama Center. The theater is located at 64 Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA.

How can I get tickets?

Tickets for the production can be purchased in person at the Loeb Drama Center during business hours, by calling A.R.T. Ticket Services at 617.547.8300 during business hours, or on our website. Ticket Services staff can walk you through alterations to the performance, as well as answer any questions you might have. Tickets Services business hours are Tuesday – Sunday, noon – 5PM.

Purchase Tickets to Thumbelina

Purchase Tickets to Gloria: A Life

Who should attend this performance?

The Sensory Friendly performance is specially designed for individuals with sensory input disorders and autism spectrum disorder, and their families and caretakers. We have made alterations to the environment of the theater, both inside and out, to facilitate a judgment-free, fun experience for the entire family. Movement and vocal reactions to the show are anticipated.

Can people without autism or other sensory sensitivities attend this performance?

Yes. Sensory Friendly performances of our family programming are also a good choice for families with first-time theatergoers and young children. The A.R.T. strongly suggests that all patrons familiarize themselves with the adjustments and expectations of the Sensory Friendly performance in order to help create a welcoming and accommodating environment for all audience members.

My child/​family member/​client with autism has difficulty with transitions. Is there anything I can do to prep them for this new experience?

A.R.T. will provide a character guide and social story to help you prepare for the full theatrical experience.

Can I bring edibles, fidget toys, headphones or other items that help my child/family member stay calm?


My family member is in a wheelchair. Can you accommodate us?

Yes. A.R.T. is fully wheelchair accessible with an automatic door from the sidewalk located near the corner of Brattle and Hilliard Streets. The lobby and entrance to the theater are all at sidewalk level.

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Are service animals allowed in the theater?

Yes. A.R.T. allows service animals to accompany patrons.

If my child/​family member/​client is not able to sit through the entire show, will we be able to leave the theater? If they decide to, will we be able to return to our seat?

Yes, ushers and staff will be available to guide patrons to the lobby. If your child/​family member/​client decides they cannot finish the show, you can leave the theater early. If they simply need a break, the lobby will have quiet areas available. Whenever possible, an usher will guide you back to your original seats when you are ready to return. Otherwise, you can be reseated in the back of the theater. A quiet area upstairs will have a television with a live feed, so that you and your child/​family member/​client will be able to watch the production from outside the theater.

Does A.R.T. have any other programs for children or adults with special needs?


See All Access Performances