Sensory theater: A new kind of play in Lansing

A new type of theater geared toward serving those with autism spectrum disorders is in the works in Lansing. U-M architect, Sean Ahlquist teamed up MSU playwright Dionne O’Dell, to create a sensory theater experience for children with autism in the production of “POND”.

The lights in the theater are low, and three black curtains encase the stage, where a team of actors—intently focused on the pair’s movements throughout the space—dance and sing songs, offer attendees objects to hold or even lotion to smell and touch. At the center of the Arena Theater stage sits a massive, rounded, almost translucent 3D structure, with material stretched into a giant web of openings and cavities meant to touch, reach into and crawl through. The material also acts as a screen for responsive light projections that are part of the performance.

The play will be ready to present to audiences in spring 2020.

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