Beauty and the Beast

Providing access to the theatre for children with autism

Authored by: Andy Kempe

The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture, and Media

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9780815368410
eBook ISBN: 9781351254687
Adobe ISBN:


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Corn Exchange Newbury (CEN) is a medium-sized theatre venue in the south of England. Like many such venues, it has a tradition of staging a pantomime for the Christmas season. In 2017–2018, it offered Beauty and the Beast. First published in France in 1740 as La Belle et la Bête, the tale reflects the myth of Cupid and Psyche, though da Silva and Tehrani (2016) argue that its roots may go back at least 4,000 years. Indeed, as Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson sing in their pop duet, Beauty and the Beast, it’s a “Tale as old as time, True as it can be” (Wikipedia n.d). As a parallel, the ‘story’ of autism and Asperger syndrome may be attributed to the work of Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger in the early 1940s (Silberman 2015), though one may assume that autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) are also ‘as old as time.’

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