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Trinity Rep’s “A Christmas Carol” is embracing neurodiversity

Kelcy Conroy

Anchor Staff Writer

Trinity Repertory Company in Providence is putting on their famous iteration of “A Christmas Carol.” This story of confronting the past, acknowledging the present and defining the future has been a New England tradition for over 45 years. This year, casting directors made an effort to accommodate an underrepresented community in theater: neurodivergent actors and actresses.

Jordan Butterfield, the Director of Accessibility and Education at Trinity Rep said that “The casting calls were very specific to include folks who were neurodiverse, specifically who have autism, or are autistic, or have ADD or ADHD, OCD or any kind of neurodivergent identity.”

Many of the actors and actresses have learned over the years to advocate for themselves. Jenna Lea Scott, who plays Mrs. Cratchit says, “If I need to see the script ahead of time, it gives me the opportunity of having the same playing field as everyone else.” Due to different disabilities, some people may not comprehend scripts the same as neurotypical people.

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Tiny Tim, the ill son of Scrooge’s clerk, has no crutch this year, but the actor that plays him has a common neurodevelopmental disability: a conversation that Tiny Tim’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit will have during the show. Butterfield says that he thinks the audience will “recognize the characters more, will relate to the characters more.” Though the story takes place in the 1800s, seeing yourself represented in famous characters is always a good feeling.

For those with sensory sensitivities, especially to light and sound, there is a handout available to prepare audiences for the moments with abrupt noises or lights. After all, “A Christmas Carol” involves ghosts and haunting, which sometimes involve extreme special effects.

On Nov. 18, Trinity offered a special sensory-friendly showing. Lighting and sounds were modified while patrons were invited to make sounds, enter and exit the theater and wear ear protectors as they pleased.

Trinity Rep runs “A Christmas Carol” until Dec. 31. Buy tickets here and learn more about their motives for including neurodivergent actors here.


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