KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Clarence Brown Theatre is working hard to prove that theatre is for everyone. 

Hana Sherman believes community is something that makes Knoxville special, and she says CBT is no exception. She serves as the theatre’s grant, education, and outreach manager. 

She’s part of several initiatives to break down barriers and improve accessibility to young people, the deaf and hard of hearing, and individuals on the autism spectrum. 

During selected performances throughout the season, you can find sensory boxes or interpreters at the box office, concession stand and during the show. Clarence Brown Theatre also offers in-house open captioning for the last Sunday matinee of every production. According to the theatre, they are the first professional producing theatre in Tennessee to offer this service.

Shakespeare in Shades is a summer theatre and reading program for rising sixth-grade students attending Vine Magnet Middle School. The program intends to improve literacy, boost confidence, and expose the next generation of students to live theatre. 

“The earlier you can access kids the better, so that it really makes a difference, especially getting kids before they turn eight is actually a magic number that they kind of found. But what they found through that research is that it increases empathy, it increases our ability to have social interactions and communication skills, because we are seeing human stories brought to life on stage and you are experiencing it with the others around you,” said Sherman. 

The Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee Knoxville is one of only a handful of institutions in the nation with a professional theatre on campus.  

Visit clarencebrowntheatre.com for more information.