Stepping Out

PYT's new production of 'Babe' includes sensory-sensitive show


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Val Zvinyatskovsky plays the title role in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Babe the Sheep Pig.”

In an effort to perform its plays for all audiences, Peninsula Youth Theatre now offers sensory-sensitive shows twice a year in Mountain View. The next one, “Babe the Sheep Pig: An Autism/Sensory Friendly Performance,” is scheduled 5 p.m. Saturday.

The show will only slightly vary from the standard performances of “Babe,” slated to run Friday and Saturday at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, SecondStage, 500 Castro St.

“Performance for us didn’t need to change much to make it a sensory-friendly show,” PYT Executive Director Karen Simpson said. “What needed to change was what we expected of our audience.”

This meant adjusting the lights and sound to create a more familiar and comfortable atmosphere for the audience, according to Simpson. Full blackouts are eliminated between scenes, stage lights are generally dimmer, sounds are quieter and less startling, and there’s a judgment-free zone for audience members to get up and walk around in. For those who suffer more severely, PYT sets up a TV in another room for the children and their families to watch in a more controlled environment.

PYT staged its first sensory-sensitive show last year. MVCPA booking coordinator Jenn Poret proposed the idea after attending a conference that touched on the subject, and that led to the two entities joining forces with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders to make it happen.

“Babe,” which PYT considers a spring production, follows a piglet who discovers his talent for sheepherding. After much mentoring from a farm dog named Fly, Babe attempts to compete at the Grand Challenge Sheep Dog Trials.

PYT’s previous sensory-sensitive show, “Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook,” took place last November.

“We wanted to pick two productions that we thought would be really accessible,” Simpson said, “and of those productions, we had to do one in the fall and one in the spring – and I knew Marcie (Shapiro, the director) would include a lot of fun music and dance in their production (of ‘Junie’).”

Tickets to “Babe” are $10. The price is the same for the standard shows, set for 9:30 and 11 a.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

For advance tickets and more information, call 903-6000 or visit mvcpa.com.

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