Everybody Is Welcome at the Alliance Theatre

Date

Leanne Rebinstein and I recently went to a performance of Everybody at the Alliance Theatre in Midtown. The Alliance is part of the Woodruff Arts Center which also houses the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta Philharmonic. The performance, which was in the Coca-Cola Theatre, was delightful, entertaining, and thought-provoking.  What a great evening all around!
My dad and I drove to the theatre, but you can also take MARTA to the Arts Center station on the Red Line. There is a parking garage at the Woodruff Arts Center, but the handicapped spaces can fill up, so plan accordingly. The elevator from the parking garage was easy to get into and there were signs directing us to the Coca-cola Theatre.
The Coca-Cola Theatre is easy to access. The staff was very helpful, polite, and friendly. One staff member even came over to Leanne and me to make sure our seats and accessibility were fine.This theatre, which is the main performance stage at the Alliance, was renovated recently and reopened in January of 2019. The renovation cost 32 million dollars but the results are stunning. The walls and ceiling are lined with curved solid-wood planks. The wood creates a warm setting that made me feel like I was in the hold of a ship. The wood is not only beautiful, but also helps perfect the acoustics of the theatre by amplifying the sound. There are now ramps between the levels so patrons can access ADA seating in the lower orchestra, the orchestra, and the balcony.
We sat in the orchestra and the accessible seating had plenty of room for my wheelchair. There was even seating around the back of the stage itself for this production like theatre in the round. I was happy to know that my seat had great sightlines.Sometimes at a theatre or stadium, if the angle of the seats is too sharp, I have trouble seeing the stage because of how I am positioned in my chair. But this was not the case at the Coca Cola Stage at the Alliance. My accessible seat was at about the same level as the stage which means I could easily see the performance.   My dad had a “companion seat” which meant a folding chair in the wheelchair space with me.
The show Everybody, based on the 15th century morality play Everyman, was fantastic. An interesting note about this production is that every actor knew every role in the play, and they rotated parts for each performance. The audience clearly enjoyed the show. Even on a Thursday night, the auditorium was full. After the show there was a talkback with a comedian, a rabbi, a chaplain, and an ethicist. Baron Vaughn, the facilitator who led the discussion, engaged the panel in a conversation about the themes of the play and took several questions from the audience. Leanne left her Compassionate Atlanta mark by giving the panelists love notes of affirmation.
I learned a lot more about the Alliance and what they stand for from reading their website. They have a page dedicated to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. There is a declaration at the top of the page that states “An art form founded on the human story cannot ignore human injustice.” The Alliance supports the demands made by the collective voices who wrote “We see you, White American Theatre”  https://www.weseeyouwat.com/ and the Alliance lists the anti-racism standards they are committed to implementing.
The Alliance also wants to ensure that people of various abilities are able to enjoy live performances.  Some of the accommodations they offer include the following:
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Accessible entrances, seating, and restrooms
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Designated quiet spaces
  • Fidget manipulatives
A new opportunity coming soon is called “Meet Your Seat.” Patrons can come to the theatre in advance of a performance to meet with an Alliance staff member who can help them preview the process of attending a live performance including getting to see exactly where your seat is located.
The Alliance offers programs and classes for children, teens, families, and adults. They have summer camp sessions for kids, and they even do workshops for corporations.
I agree with the Alliance that theatre is all about the human story, and we can see ourselves in the stories and characters on stage. Since we are all on our own human journey, I appreciate the efforts the Alliance makes to make everyone welcome and feel included.

The Takeaways


Celebrate:
  • Performances at the Alliance are always outstanding–you won’t be disappointed!
  • The renovated Coca-Cola Theatre is beautiful, warm, comfortable, and inviting.
  • The Alliance has accessibility features that are intentional, inclusive, and go far beyond minimum ADA requirements.
  • The Alliance strives to bring the joy of live theatre to people of all abilities, races, ages, and cultures.
Educate:
  • If you need handicapped parking, the earlier you arrive the better.


Jimmy Freels

Community Outreach Associate
Compassionate Atlanta
http://jimmyfreels.com

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