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Humiliated: the Apollo Victoria has apologised to Gregor and Glyn Morris

Tom Harper

4 Aug 2011

 

A West End theatre has been accused of “outrageous discrimination” after an autistic boy was forced to leave for making too much noise.

During a performance of hit musical Wicked, staff repeatedly moved Gregor Morris, 12, around the Apollo Victoria theatre following concerns raised by a “precious sound engineer”.

 

A manager initially asked Gregor’s father to move his family behind a glass screen at the back of the stalls.

 

The manager then told the Morrises to sit on some steps away from other people. Father Glyn, 41, was so upset at the treatment that he felt he had no option but to remove his son from the theatre.

 

Mr Morris told the Standard: “Gregor was not flapping or shouting. All I can think of is that he laughed too loudly but it was never at inappropriate moments. I asked to see the manager, queried the complaint and was told ‘it was our precious sound engineer’.

 

I asked if any of the audience had complained and was told, ‘No’. One member of the audience even stood up to fight our corner.

 

“I will never forget the look of shock in the faces of people nearby as we were asked to leave, and for the humiliation caused to Gregor.”

 

Gregor, who lives near Inverness, suffers from neuronal migration disorder and epilepsy. It was his first visit to London since he was a baby.

 

The family visited Hyde Park, the Eye, Legoland and Buckingham Palace during a three-day break before spending £270 to see Wicked, the story of a witch called Elphaba who struggles to overcome victimisation.

 

Read in Full:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23974878-theatre-ejects-autistic-boy-12-for-laughing.do



One Response to “Theatre Accused Of ‘Outrageous Discrimination’ Against Autistic Boy”

  1. Ambassador Theatre Group Says:

    AMBASSADOR THEATRE GROUP STATEMENT

    We 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

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