Broadway actor writes open letter about a child who interrupted his performance
If you've ever been to the theatre to see a play or a musical, you'll know how irritating it can be if someone within earshot keeps on making a lot of noise. It doesn't matter if it's the faint rustle of popcorn or the muffled voice of a person asking their seatmate a question, any sort of sound can be distracting - not just for the other audience members, but also the actors on stage.
And so, understandably, when a big disruption occurs, sometimes the actors will have something to say about it.
Kelvin Moon Loh, a Broadway actor, did exactly that when he penned an open letter about an autistic boy who interrupted his performance of The King and I by screaming during a particularly intense scene. "I am angry and sad," Loh began. "Just got off stage from today's matinee and yes, something happened. Someone brought their autistic child to the theater."
However, the letter didn't go exactly as many people probably thought it would.
"You think I will admonish that mother for bringing a child who yelped during a quiet moment in the show. You think I will herald an audience that yelled at this mother for bringing their child to the theater. You think that I will have sympathy for my own company whose performances were disturbed from a foreign sound coming from in front of them.
"Instead, I ask you- when did we as theater people, performers and audience members become so concerned with our own experience that we lose compassion for others?"
The actor went on to say that he didn't feel any kind of negativity towards the mother of the child. In fact, he admired her. If he could, he said, he would have stopped the play in order to explain to the audience that they shouldn't scorn her for bringing her son along - rather, they should have supported her.
"For her to bring her child to the theater is brave. You don't know what her life is like," Loh went on.
"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."
"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.
"And no, I don't care how much you spent on the tickets."
So, if you ever find yourself in a similar position, just remember this: not everyone's experiences are the same as yours, and nobody should be denied a chance to have fun because of a disability.