A Commitment to Sensory-Friendly Programming

The Flynn Center is delighted to build on an initiative to offer sensory-friendly programming for children on the autism spectrum or with other sensory sensitivities. The Flynn worked on these adaptations with Childsplay from Arizona; the Theatre Development Fund from NYC, which has been implementing sensory-friendly shows on Broadway in recent years; and Chicago Children's Theatre (CCT) which brought Red Kite, Brown Box to the Flynn for five performances in 2015 that did not insist upon sitting still and keeping quiet, but rather encouraged children to move, laugh, talk, sing, and interact with the artists. Red Kite, Brown Box returned October 16 and 17, 2016 for family matinees, student matinees, and an educator workshop. Read Flynn Executive Director John Killacky's reflections on this residency. The company returned for a third year with Red Kite Treasure Adventure, their latest work, on October 22 and 23, 2017 and continue to work with the Flynn's education team to create Red Kite Green Mountain. The team presented a work-in-progress showing on October 26, 2017 in the gallery. Listen to a VPR interview with CCT's Co-Founder and Artistic Director Jacqui Russel and Flynn Student Matinee Series Manager Kat Redniss. This new Flynn company will travel to communities starting in Fall 2018 (check back for updates)!

The Flynn also presents award-winning performances by other companies for children and families with a sensory-friendly format. Such productions have inlcuded Schoolhouse Rock LIve (Feb 2015), The Cat in the Hat (March 2016), and Peter Rabbit (November 2016) and coming up don't miss Shh...We Have a Plan (Wednesday, May 9, 2018). You can expect house lights to be dim but not totally dark; sound to be adjusted to softer levels; a relaxed and family-friendly viewing experience in the theater; the lobby to have activity spaces (fidgets, noise canceling headphones, weighted blankets, coloring tables) and quiet break spaces which can be enjoyed at anytime during the show; gluten-free and sugar-free snack options at the concession counter; often these performances are ASL interpreted; and as always, Braille programs are avaialble upon request (we ask that you make your request at least 10 days prior to the show).

In addition, the Flynn partners with VSA Vermont to offer sensory-friendly drumming workshops for families. These Rhythm of Life: Drumming workshops are free thanks to the generous support of the Surdna, Buffum, and Ford Foundations. This fall the workshops are held on Sundays, October 29 and November 12, 2017. Families are welcome to drop in but pre-registering will secure a spot.  


Sensory FriendlyDid you know that social stories, break spaces, sensory-friendly materials, and more are available for all shows at the Flynn! Want to know more? Visit our Accessibility Page or contact Kat Redniss.


Participants at Red Kite, Brown Box

Reflections on Red Kite, Brown Box

From a father who attended with his daughter:

"Thank you for the interactive performance of the Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite, Brown Box at the Flynn. My daughter Lily had a great time and was telling people about it for days. This is not trivial when it can take more effort to communicate. My family thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I was overcome during the first few moments of the performance with the beauty of seeing all the children with autism enjoying the show together. This togetherness is important for children who often feel isolated and may wonder if others see the world as they do. This rare occasion was possible because the Flynn created an opportunity to have this shared experience. On top of that, the children were shown the importance of theater to help develop creativity, as a wonderful way to learn and a demonstration of self-empowerment. Making theater performances accessible to more individuals, especially children, is commendable. I believe that is exactly what you have accomplished. Seeing the Flynn staff and Chicago Children’s Theatre’s actors take time to consider the needs of people like my daughter is heartwarming. It was very special to feel part of the community. Thank you."

Participants at Red Kite, Brown Box

From Eva Laporte, Chicago Children's Theatre member and educator:

"Let us know when we can come back, and we will be right over! Thank you for a wonderful week and for introducing us to so many sweet young friends!"

Participants at Red Kite, Brown Box

A poem by Mykele Callicutt, Chicago Children's Theatre member and educator:


My heart is spilling.
My brain is on replay.
My motives have grown.
This trip has taught.
The work we did will stand as a monument in me when times go dark.
I've gained comrades and family in the battle for education and therapy.
I was bathed in hospitality and encouragement.
I am luck incarnate.
Farewell Vermont.
Until, until.
Hello again, Chicago.
Back to the fight.

Participants at Red Kite, Brown Box

A sweet behind-the-scenes moment for Flynn Administrator Madeline Bell:

"Guys, Kat and I are receiving info about each kid that is coming to 'Red Kite, Brown Box' and the likes/dislikes sections are just the most adorable things I've ever read. Here's one of my favorite "like" sections: 'Minecraft, outer space, planets, black holes, boxes, large zip lock bags, rocks, erasers, black cats, and shapes. He loves the color black.'

Did you know that social stories, break spaces, sensory-friendly materials, and more are available for all shows at the Flynn! Want to know more? Contact Kat Redniss.

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Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
153 Main Street, Burlington, Vermont 05401
Tickets: 802-863-5966, voice/relay calls welcome
Administrative Offices: 802-652-4500 (P) 802-863-8788 (F)
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