Kevin Moon Loh was on stage in a September 23rd performance of “The King and I” when a child with autism began to cry and scream. It was an emotional moment in the show when one of the characters was being whipped, and this seemed to provoke a strong reaction in the boy.
When the mother was unable to immediately calm him, the audience members turned against her, and their scowls and scolding made it clear that they blamed the woman for the interruption and wanted her to leave. She complied, but the actor was distressed and soon took to social media to say so.
In a lengthy post, he described his feelings of distress while observing the scene that unfolded before him. He wanted to stop the show and speak up in this woman’s defense, and this was his next best option. He applauded the woman for having the courage to take her son out and give him a cultural experience, knowing that he might not get through it without an incident.
He noted that theatre should be for people of all ages and dispositions and that it is wrong to exclude someone on the basis of a potentially disruptive disability.
Kevin Moon Loh’s post quickly went viral, and many people applauded him for his compassionate response to a frustrating situation. His words served as a reminder that although it is important to be considerate of others in a theatrical setting, those with little control over their actions should be able to enjoy performances as well, especially in a family-friendly show like “The King and I.” With a little more understanding, the art of theatre can be shared and enjoyed by all segments of the population.