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