Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts welcomes audiences with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families to Big Umbrella Outdoors. The weekend of programming beginning September 17 is part of Restart Stages, the new outdoor performing arts center constructed on the Lincoln Center campus to champion the city’s cultural and economic revival.
Big Umbrella Outdoors is an extension of the 2018 Big Umbrella Festival, an international endeavor that offered performances across New York City for children on the autism spectrum. It also gathered arts professionals and thought leaders from across the globe in-person and virtually to share best practices on serving these unique audiences. Held during Autism Acceptance Month, the festival was the first of its kind dedicated to arts programs for young people on the spectrum and their families.
This year, Big Umbrella Outdoors kicks off with a special event at 6pm on Friday night welcoming teens and young adults for an evening of art, dance and music activities. The evening begins with an offering from neurodiverse theatre company E.P.I.C. Players in a performance that explores the autistic experience through authentically conceived and portrayed stories and concludes with an inclusive Silent Disco featuring Music: Not Impossible, wearable technology which translates sound onto the skin through vibration, allowing users to feel the music. The Silent Disco offers the unique experience for audience members to control sensory elements, by adjusting volume on personal devices and being within socially distanced circles.
Children and their families are invited to experience the festival on Saturday and Sunday in a two-hour ticketed window that begins at 11am or 2:30pm, each including the same offerings. Each visit begins and ends with a live performance, with time between for attendees to choose and explore additional interactive installations: Squonk’s Big Hands for a Big Umbrella immersive experience; a sonic soundscape from Swingset Drumkit, the sensory sculpture OrchidsPlayscape, as well as music and dance performances featuring artists with disabilities.
In addition, an at-home, action-packed experience for kids, Sun Runners, an intergalactic audio adventure by Audioplay & Windmill Theatre Company, will be available at LincolnCenter.org/BigUmbrella from September 13-26, 2021.
Big Umbrella Outdoors
Friday, September 17 – Sunday, September 19, 2021
Friday: Inclusive Silent Disco (Josie Robertson Plaza)
A silent disco made accessible for all due to groundbreaking technology. Music: Not Impossible is an applied Vibrotextile™ technology that allows users to experience the rich nuances of music, using the skin as a canvas. Initially inspired by deaf music fans, the system goes beyond accessibility to create a radically inclusive experience. Music: Not Impossible not only provides a kind of accessibility that has never before been achieved but enhances the musical experience for all.
Songs and Stories from the Spectrum by E.P.I.C. Players (Josie Robertson Plaza)
The E.P.I.C. Players are a nonprofit, neuro-diverse theatre company dedicated to creating professional performing arts opportunities and supportive social communities in the arts for persons with developmental disabilities. Join the company as they sing songs and share stories about resiliency, empowerment, and hope for the future.
Saturday and Sunday: Big Hands for a Big Umbrella by Squonk (performance at Damrosch Park)
Performance collective Squonk draws from their “Hand to Hand” project to create an immersive, open engagement just for Lincoln Center. This relaxed performance will allow all to express themselves and be comfortable: close or far, touch or not, quiet or loud. Drawing on Squonk’s command of multi-sensory performance and their nationally renowned work in participatory inclusiveness, they offer an intimate experience that invites free expression, where stimming, moving, and vocalizing are all welcome.
Swingset Drumkit (interactive installation at The Deck at Damrosch Park)
Swingset Drumkit is a unique, interactive sonic sculpture encouraging people to build rhythmic sounds through their swinging. Swings are attached to large colorful wheels that trigger multiple drumsticks, striking percussive instruments. The speed and swinging height is translated into varying rhythms and sounds. Make your own music by swinging!
OrchidsPlayscape by Sean Ahlquist (interactive installation at Josie Robertson Plaza)
The term “orchid” in behavioral science refers to a unique ability to thrive when immersed within a desirable environment. Knowing what may be a motivating, preferred environment at any particular day and time for someone with autism is near impossible. Therefore, instead of trying to predict a single design solution, the effort is to hand over design authorship, to let function of environment play out within the hands of those immersed within it. The OrchidsPlayscape attempts to do this through richly textured knitted textiles and interaction with multi-sensory objects. Born of the artist, Sean Ahlquist, and his architectural research, and driven by ever-changing experiences with his autistic daughter, Ara, the project hopes to enable those with autism to communicate their creativity for space-making and unique sense of play.
Écoute pour voir by Danse Carpe Diem / Emmanuel Jouthe and Ballet For All Kids (performance at Josie Robertson Plaza)
Écoute pour voir is eight solo artists, scattered in space and dancing simultaneously. Originally created and choreographed by Emmanuel Jouthe and Danse Carpe Diem, performances at Lincoln Center will feature dancers from Ballet For All Kids, which teaches classical ballet technique and other dance styles using TheSchlachte Method, a certified curriculum developed to accommodate all abilities, body types, and learning styles. In Écoute pour voir, one dancer and one audience member equipped with a pair of headphones attached to an iPod share a two-to-three-minute choreographic exchange. Audiences will engage in these artistic experiences in shared celebration of human beings and their abilities. (Cleaned headphones will be provided for this experience. If you prefer to bring your own, please note that they must have a traditional headphone jack of 3.5 mm. For example, iPhone headphones will not be compatible.)
Songs from the Spectrum by E.P.I.C. Players (performance at Hearst Plaza/The Grove)
The E.P.I.C. Players are a nonprofit, neuro-diverse theatre company dedicated to creating professional performing arts opportunities and supportive social communities in the arts for persons with developmental disabilities. Join the company of E.P.I.C. Players as they sing songs about resiliency, empowerment, and hope for the future.
Sun Runners by Audioplay & Windmill Theatre Company (virtual experience)
With a pair of headphones and a mobile device, your kids plunge headfirst into an immersive space adventure, hurtling across the farthest reaches of the galaxy in your own living room. Sun Runners infuses imaginative, physical play with a cinematic score to create a thrilling action-packed experience. It’s technology without the screens. (This experience can be accessed at home via mobile device. Links and episodes will be available beginning September 13 at 10:00 a.m. at LincolnCenter.org/BigUmbrella.)