Broadway Actor Writes Letter To The Autistic Child Who Interrupted His Performance

Theatre, Austistic
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Theater is a beautiful thing. For just a few hours you get the chance to become immersed in an incredible story and forget about the world around you.

And a lot of work goes into that world! The lighting, the music, the costumes, the set and of course, the actors and their days, weeks, even months or years of practice and dedication. But even after all the effort put into the production, just one little thing can take you right out of the story and back into the real world.

I’m sure you know how annoying it can be when someone in the row behind you is chewing loud candy, texting their boyfriend, or whispering to the person sitting next to them. Even the smallest of noises can be distracting.

One broadway theater performance had a very large distraction that got the attention of not only the audience, but the actors as well. And one actor decided to share his feelings on social media about it.

The Open Letter

Kelvin Moon Loh was performing in The King And I on Broadway when an autistic child interrupted the show with his shouting.

Although the show is family friendly, one particular scene involved a whipping that was apparently rather intense. During this dramatic and quiet scene, an autistic child in the audience began screaming loudly and his mother had to take him out of the theater.

Many audience members were extremely angry, which can be understandable considering the cost of their tickets. However, the most impressive part about the ordeal was the way that Kelvin responded later that day on social media.

Kelvin posted a lengthy letter describing the experience and his stance on the matter.

He said, “The theater to me has always been a way to examine/dissect the human experience and present it back to ourselves. Today, something very real was happening in the seats and, yes, it interrupted the fantasy that was supposed to be this matinee, but ultimately, theater is created to bring people together, not just for entertainment, but to enhance our lives when we walk out the door again.

“It so happened that during ‘the whipping scene,’ a rather intense moment in the second act, a child was heard yelping in the audience. It sounded like terror. Not more than one week earlier, during the same scene, a young girl in the front row – seemingly not autistic – screamed and cried loudly and no one said anything then. How is this any different?

“His voice pierced the theater. The audience started to rally against the mother and her child to be removed. I heard murmurs of ‘why would you bring a child like that to the theater?’ This is wrong. Plainly wrong.”

He continues by commending the mother. He says,“For her to bring her child to the theater is brave. You don’t know what her life is like. Perhaps, they have great days where he can sit still and not make much noise because this is a rare occurrence. Perhaps she chooses to no longer live in fear, and refuses to compromise the experience of her child. Maybe she scouted the aisle seat for a very popular show in case such an episode would occur. She paid the same price to see the show as you did for her family. Her plan, as was yours, was to have an enjoyable afternoon at the theater and slowly her worst fears came true.”

And finally he concludes, “I leave you with this – shows that have special performances for autistic audiences should be commended for their efforts to make theater inclusive for all audiences. I believe like Joseph Papp that theater is created for all people. I stand by that and also for once, I am in a show that is completely FAMILY FRIENDLY. The King and I on Broadway is just that – FAMILY FRIENDLY – and that means entire families – with disabilities or not. Not only for special performances, but for all performances. A night at the theater is special on any night you get to go.”

Compassion For Others

Kelvin’s post received an incredible amount of views and Kelvin later shared that he did not expect to receive such a large response to his post. There is obviously a need in today’s world for more compassion toward others, no matter who they are.

Conclusion

What are your thoughts about what happened and this open letter to the world? What can you do to help spread a bit more love and compassion in this world that is so often riddled with hardship and frustration? Feel free to share with us, we’d love to hear from you. 

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Jenna Barrington