Being interrupted can make you go furious.
Imagine yourself explaining or doing something you really love, and you’re so deep in flow, that you don’t even think. You just do and everything makes perfect sense.
Now imagine you’re being interrupted by a bystander, or a friend that you’re talking to. It can make you go crazy in a second, right? From that moment it’s really hard to catch the flow you used to be seconds ago.
When it happens, we can either accept it as it is and call it life, or we can just take door number 2 and go furious about it.
Kelvin Moon Loh is an actor who was faced with similar situation recently.
He was in the middle of performance on Broadway, performing ‘The King and I’, when suddenly an autistic boy from the crowd interrupted him by screaming in the middle of the show.
The attention of the show flew directly to that noise, and they were not pleased… but how Kelvin handled the situation is what made the headlines.
Image source: Facebook/Kelvin
When it happened, Kelvin had every right to rebuke the person responsible, and in this case that happened to be a child with autism.
The child screamed out loudly during a whipping scene that usually evokes a strong emotional reaction, and his mother had to take him out of the theater.
Some of the guests had paid 6,000$ to attend the show, and they had every right to be displeased by the situation.
Kelvin wanted to reach a broader audience and wrote a letter after the performance. He posted it on social media, and he did an excellent choice doing so:
“I am angry and sad,” he wrote.
“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?
The theater to me has always been a way to examine/dissect the human experience and present it back to ourselves. Today, something very real was happening in the seats and, yes, it interrupted the fantasy that was supposed to be this matinee but ultimately theater is created to bring people together, not just for entertainment, but to enhance our lives when we walk out the door again.
It so happened that during “the whipping scene”, a rather intense moment in the second act, a child was heard yelping in the audience. It sounded like terror. Not more than one week earlier, during the same scene, a young girl in the front row- seemingly not autistic screamed and cried loudly and no one said anything then. How is this any different?
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. Refund any ticket because-
For her to bring her child to the theater is brave. You don’t know what her life is like. Perhaps, they have great days where he can sit still and not make much noise because this is a rare occurrence. Perhaps she chooses to no longer live in fear, and refuses to compromise the experience of her child. Maybe she scouted the aisle seat for a very popular show in case such an episode would occur. She paid the same price to see the show as you did for her family. Her plan, as was yours, was to have an enjoyable afternoon at the theater and slowly her worst fears came true.
I leave you with this- Shows that have special performances for autistic audiences should be commended for their efforts to make theater inclusive for all audiences. I believe like Joseph Papp that theater is created for all people. I stand by that and also for once, I am in a show that is completely FAMILY FRIENDLY. The King and I on Broadway is just that- FAMILY FRIENDLY- and that means entire families- with disabilities or not. Not only for special performances but for all performances. A night at the theater is special on any night you get to go.
And no, I don’t care how much you spent on the tickets.”
Today it’s so easy to forget the basic human principles. We have endless distractions from social media and advertisement. Our attention is shortening every year, and our nerves and patience is getting weaker every day. If we don’t control ourselves, there may be a few seconds of anger that can dictate an entire life of misery.
But, at the end of the day it’s those tiny moments that craft our experience called life.
When you’re old and grey and your health has left you, do you want to think on how you kicked up a fuss over a child with disabilities acting out of the ordinary? Or would you rather look back with understanding and compassion?
Kelvin is truly a hero for writing this letter, and we’d love for it to be spread far and wide to pass on his touching message.
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Originally inspired by Newsner