News: Discrimination at Wicked – UPDATED .

N95856286808_2191643_3380156

FURTHER UPDATE 8/8 Statement from ATG in comments

The following has just been brought to my attention on facebook:

‘Wicked’ Discrimination at The Apollo 

 

What you are about to read is a personal account on behalf of our son Gregor aged 12, regarding a recent visit to the Apollo Theatre, Victoria, London on the evening of Friday 22nd July 2011 to see ‘Wicked’-The story of the Wicked Witch of the West. I don’t know if you have seen this show but it is about someone, who due to being different is subjected to bullying, discrimination and ridicule her whole life.

 

Myself, and Jennifer my wife, have two children, Gregor, 12 and Emily, 9. Gregor has a condition called Neuronal Migration Disorder, is on the Autistic spectrum, suffers from epilepsy and struggles with his balance. Vocally Gregor communicates using vowel sounds to sound like words. Behind the huge smiles, Gregor is a very happy and clever little boy with an absolute abundance of affection, which in turn has touched the lives of many people. Emily is a fantastic young carer to her big brother and we as a family are very close.

 

At the show, from the very start, Gregor was really enjoying himself. He wasn’t making any more noise than any other child at a show or in the cinema would make, certainly nothing out of context, or disruptive. We are constantly assessing situations that affect Gregor and others around him and would most definitely have taken Gregor out of the show if he had been affecting any other member of the audiences’ enjoyment.

Fifteen minutes into the show, the front of house manager approached us and advised that we had two options. One – Gregor watched from behind a glass partition or Two- that we leave the theatre. The glass partition was completely unpractical- I even struggled to see over it! I asked to see the General Manager and queried the manner of the complaint. I was told –quote-,”it was our precious sound engineer”. I asked if any of the audience had complained and was told, “No.” One member of the audience for who we are very thankful for even stood up to fight our corner.

 

Something I will never forget, is the look of shock and surprise in the many faces of the audience nearby as we were asked to leave and for the humiliation caused to Gregor. The saddest part of it all was the look of sheer enjoyment on his face being wiped out as I had to tell him we had to leave.
At the interval, my wife and daughter were approached again to make sure they were ok and would like anything eg. Sweets/Drinks, from the obvious visual upset caused earlier. My wife’s response was an obvious one, “Yes, my son and my husband back.”

 

I was left with no choice but to take Gregor back to the hotel. I should say at this point that we live in the North of Scotland and were visiting London as part of our holiday. Jennifer stayed with Emily to watch the show but then had to find her way across London alone with our young daughter. Emily was extremely upset as to how her brother had been treated and all the excitement of going to the show was completely spoiled.
I personally find our treatment disgusting and extremely hurtful. In modern day London and Britain we are taught not to judge, discriminate or mock people because of their differences. Isn’t it ironic that this happens to a little boy in a show that is exactly about that.

 

Glyn Morris

This saddens me.  I take it that it has nothing to do with the cast of the show and that the front of house staff are going from a complaint of an over protective sound engineer.  The audience was fine with the boy’s noises and were happy to accomodate his needs and front of house staff seemed to be trying their best to make amends.

Wicked London, the official facebook page for the show has posted this response:

We are distressed to learn of the Morris family’s experience at the Apollo Victoria Theatre where our show is performed. WICKED embraces acceptance and works hard to champion tolerance through support of many charitable organisations that tackle social prejudice. We will work with the theatre owner The Ambassador Theatre Group to improve access for all and support a full appraisal of their operational procedures.

There may be a statement from the ATG later today, in which case I’ll update the post.  I hope this issue doesn’t dissuade people to see Wicked as it is an amazing show and it’s so sad that the serious issues that the show tackles has been brought to the forefront but with Wicked as the ‘attacker’.

******************

UPDATE:

The following statement from ATG has just been posted:

ATG OFFICIAL STATEMENT

 

We deeply regret any upset caused to the Morris family and would like to apologise for their bad experience last week at the Apollo Victoria in London. 

 

We are grateful to them for highlighting an issue that is at the very heart of our company. We firmly believe that everyone has the right to access live theatre and we especially welcome children and young people. 

 

We have prioritised training and have a member of senior management responsible for learning and access. However, this situation has emphasised the need for further training so that our operational staff can be better prepared in future and we have taken immediate measures to ensure that training is implemented and put into practice. 

 

We are further working with the Producers of Wicked to explore improving access to as wide an audience as possible for the fantastic production at the Apollo Victoria. 

 

ATG’s Joint CEO and Head of Learning and Access have both personally spoken to Mr Morris and held a useful discussion about our access provisions and the company will learn from this experience.

 

Ambassador Theatre Group

No real answer to be honest, and appears pretty standard, but let’s hope that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

Advertisements
Tagged , ,

One thought on “News: Discrimination at Wicked – UPDATED .

  1. Ambassador Theatre Group says:

    AMBASSADOR THEATRE GROUP STATEMENTWe deeply regret any upset caused to the Morris family and would like to apologise for their bad experience last month at the Apollo Victoria in London. We are grateful to them for highlighting an issue that goes to the very heart of our company’s mission to provide an excellent experience for all our patrons. We firmly believe that everyone has the right to access live theatre, regardless of ability or disability, and we especially welcome children and young people. However, we must clarify two points of fact which have been overlooked in much of the coverage of this story. – The sound engineer did not complain about Gregor Morris, but merely alerted venue staff that there was a disturbance in the auditorium as she was concerned that someone was ill. – At no time were the Morris Family asked to leave the theatre. Mr Morris and his son left of their own accord, leaving his wife and daughter to watch the rest of the performance. ATG firmly believes that no patron should ever be asked to leave one of its theatres as a direct consequence of their disability. In this instance, whilst the staff concerned did not actually ask the family to leave, the way in which the situation was handled clearly resulted in the family feeling that they had no option. This is wholly unacceptable and we have apologised unreservedly for the distress caused to the Morris family. Whilst we have a comprehensive access policy and training programme, this incident has naturally caused us to review both to ensure that our training model is fit for purpose. This is underway now. We work with a number of disability organisations on an ongoing basis and will be seeking further advice from them as to how we can improve our staff training.ATG’s Joint CEO and Head of Learning and Access have both been in regular contact with Mr Morris and we are now working towards a positive outcome, including looking at ways of raising awareness of the needs of visitors with disabilities including in theatres nationally, and improving our practice through engaging with charities who specialise in this field. Ambassador Theatre Group

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: