It's Autism Awareness Month, and Chicago's Blue Man Group is setting sail on a yearlong partnership with advocacy organization Autism Speaks, to raise awareness and introduce a sensory-friendly show that's sure to be a thrill, whether you're on the spectrum or not.
In their popular show, the Blue Men – literally three men painted blue – share a variety of hijinks/tricks/performance art/antics, engaging the audience without a word. Audience participation is encouraged: you’ll have no choice but to stand up off and shake your booty, and, if you’re in the first few rows, be prepared to get wet! Feats include a twinkie dinner party, a painting extravaganza and larger-than-life smart phones.
For the sensory-friendly shows, slight modifications will be made: sound and light levels will be reduced, and headphones are available upon request. The Blue Men will limit the amount of “chair walking” and their approach will be a bit more subdued than usual. The team will also work to create a calming environment in the theater lobby, so any guests seeking a break from the excitement can step out for a moment at any time.
"We’ve heard from many families affected by autism that their children responded to the Blue Man character in a very moving way. We don’t know the exact reason. We can only speculate that it has to do with the Blue Men communicating in their own unique way — non-verbally, through visuals, touch and sound. Their message often resonates on a deeper, more sincere level,” said Phil Stanton, Blue Man Group Co-Founder. “Once we knew that we could be helpful or provide an outlet for those affected by autism, we felt it was important to do more. With our sensory-friendly shows, we want to create a safe and welcoming environment for individuals and families affected by this disorder, in the hopes that they can have an entertaining and joyful experience together.”
Blue Man Group has already donated $25,000 to Autism Speaks, but throughout the month of April, the blue paint dipped men will take collections after each performance to be donated to Chicago branch of Autism Speaks. The sensory-friendly performance schedule can be found at blueman.com/autismspeaks. Performance dates in Chicago are to be determined. Fans can also keep up with Blue Man Group through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or the hashtag #DareToLive.
Photo Courtesy of Google Images, Creative Commons