Being disruptive during a movie or live show is generally frowned upon (and is totally deserving of grumbles and stares).
But what if the person causing the disturbance was someone who could not help it — like a child that had autism? That’s exactly what happened during a matinee performance of The King and I at the Vivian Beaumont Theater last week. A woman brought a child that had autism to the show and — during a particularly quiet and tense scene — he began to yell and become upset.
The crowd was unhappy, but one of the understudies in the production, Kelvin Moon Loh, supported the woman and her child with a post on Facebook.
This was the actor’s response on Facebook (from New York Times’s excerpt):
“I am angry and sad.
Just got off stage from today’s matinee and yes, something happened. Someone brought their autistic child to the theater.
That being said — this post won’t go the way you think it will.
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?
His voice pierced the theater. The audience started to rally against the mother and her child to be removed. I heard murmurs of ‘why would you bring a child like that to the theater?’ This is wrong. Plainly wrong.”
“Because what you didn’t see was a mother desperately trying to do just that. But her son was not compliant. What they didn’t see was a mother desperately pleading with her child as he gripped the railing refusing — yelping more out of defiance. I could not look away. I wanted to scream and stop the show and say, “EVERYONE RELAX. SHE IS TRYING. CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT SHE IS TRYING???!!!!” I will gladly do the entire performance over again.”
Even though he was part of the performance that was interrupted, this actor knew that compassion should have a place in our lives. With that being said…
Please don’t use your phone during performances. That is rude.