Sensory-Friendly Performances

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is proud to offer sensory-friendly performances for people from all over the western Pennsylvania region and beyond! In 2013, PBT premiered the country's first-ever, sensory-friendly performance of the timeless holiday classic, The Nutcracker, and is proud to expanded its sensory-friendly repertoire with Beauty and the Beast in 2015.

Up next, PBT is thrilled to present a new sensory-friendly performance:

             Peter Pan on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.



Where are these performances presented? 

Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown Pittsburgh


What makes a performance "sensory-friendly?"

A sensory-friendly performance has been specially designed to serve patrons with sensory sensitivities and other special needs. We are making the entire experience sensory-friendly in three primary ways:

  • Production
  • Front of House
  • Staff, Dancer and Volunteer Training

The production will be, for the most part, what you would see if you were to attend any other performance. First and foremost, PBT wants the production to retain its artistic integrity and impact on the audience. Some things will be different, however, such as: 

  • lowering sound and light levels so there are no sudden changes
  • eliminating any potentially startling effects, such as the fire flares that signal Drosselmeyer's magic tricks in The Nutcracker
  • keeping the house lights at half throughout the performance

Front of house -- everything from the lobby to where you are sitting -- likely will be where audience members notice the biggest changes. Some adaptations will include:

  • relaxing of house rules--you are free to get up, move around, and leave whenever you need to
  • allowed use of Ipads and other electronics for therapeutic uses
  • volunteers scattered throughout the theater to assist and direct audience members as needed
  • quiet areas and activity areas in the lobby should your child need a break
  • fidget objects and ear plugs will be available

Everyone--PBT staff, dancers, ushers and volunteers--will be trained prior to the performance. PBT is working with many local autism and intellectual and developmental disability experts to make sure that everyone involved understands the spectrum of special needs that patrons may have and strategies for helping all patrons through this experience.


How long are the performances?

Both performances will be around 2 hours and 15 minutes long, including one twenty-minute intermission. 


How can I prepare my child or myself for this experience?

PBT wants to ensure that all patrons attending a sensory-friendly performance feel comfortable knowing what to expect. Links to materials for each production can be found below and will be sent to all ticket holders approximately two weeks prior to the performance.

Who can attend the performance?

PBT strives to create a safe space for families with special needs to come and be who they are during the sensory-friendly perfromances. However, we also realize that there may be other patrons who wish to avail themselves of the adaptations and accomodations that a sensory-friendly performance provides. This year, after careful consideration and discussion with our partners in the autism and IDD community, we have decided to open up ticket sales to the general public for these two performances. All ticket buyers will receive numerous communications from PBT that they have purchased tickets for a sensory-friendly performance and what that means. If a patron unintentionally purchases tickets for a sensory-friendly performance, they are urged to contact PBT Subscription Services. 


How can I purchase tickets?

Sensory-friendly performance subscription tickets and single tickets can be purchased online or by calling 412-454-9105. Special discount codes will be distributed through PBT's partners within the autism and IDD communities.  For more information about tickets, please call 412-454-9107.


How much will tickets cost? 

Thanks to generous support from our community, including the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust, Ms. Carrie M. Stanny, and the Montague Family Foundation, we are able to offer these tickets at a heavily discounted rate for families with special needs. Patrons will have a range of ticket prices and seating options to choose from.

Other patrons are welcome to purchase tickets for the sensory-friendly performances at our regular ticket price.


Who is supporting these sensory-friendly performances?

As we all know, it takes a village! Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre gratefully thanks our generous sponsors for the 2014-15 sensory-friendly performances: The Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust, Ms. Carrie M. Stanny, the Montague Family Foundation and The Jack Buncher Foundation. PBT also thanks the Autism Connection of PA, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Theatre Development Fund, the Children's Institute, and many others for their partnership and support!


How can I help Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre with this endeavor?

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will be looking for qualified volunteers (i.e., special education teachers, therapists, etc.) to help on the days of the performances. Qualified volunteers can register today! Should you wish to make a donation to PBT to help support the sensory-friendly performances, please click here to donate, and thank you!