Are All Really Welcome?

While perusing some articles, I came across this very compelling story. I had several initial reactions. The first was my concern for the mother and son who were placed in this unfortunate situation. Secondly, I felt sincere shock that a situation like this is still occurring in 2015. As actor Kelvin Loh says himself: “…When did we as theater people, performers and audience members become so concerned with our own experience that we lose compassion for others?”

seatsOf course, parents are having similar experiences in many venues, church, the grocery store, amusement parks… the list is endless. I, too, have been the mom who felt pressured to quickly exit a room full of people who were staring at us, all because of Ryan’s perceived “disruptive” behavior.

There’s a lot of talk about inclusion, being judgement-free, being patient and understanding, but articles such as this lead me to ask – are we really practicing what we preach? I have mentioned before our joy over the Erie Playhouse’s sensory-friendly theater performances, which are wonderful platforms for local families. But eventually, most of us will be faced with social interaction that is not customized. What then?

Actor Loh says that he feels that the mother of this son was brave to be willing to bring her son into the theater, and I couldn’t agree more. My call to action is to ask the audience members to be brave, too. Whether it is standing up for a family being treated unfairly, or being patient in a public place if you notice there is a family having a struggle. Showing consideration and understanding in the situation can lead to a change in perception. One person can lead to tens to hundreds. Stand up for this cause!

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