Our small coastal town of Madison, Conn., hosted a premiere screening of the ABC sitcom Speechless on September 20 at the Madison Art Cinemas. The show’s lead character has cerebral palsy, is confined to a wheelchair and communicates with an alphabet board. Local non-profit Madison SEPTO (Special Education Parent Teacher Organization) sponsored the screening to increase awareness of students with special needs. As part of the premiere, we created a “Unified Evening of Entertainment” that featured appearances by Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. and other political and public figures who champion the rights of people with disabilities.
Leading up to the event, we received such a big community response that we had to figure out a way to accommodate a large overflow audience. In my work with Allen-Nee Productions, I’d heard about TVU Networks’ TVU One mobile uplink solution and thought it might be what we needed to provide a live video feed into an overflow area during the premiere.
The event attracted 250 people in the main theater and another 100 people in the overflow library. TVU’s mobile video transmission equipment delivered a live simulcast of the show’s premiere to the large screen in the library, and the high-quality picture and real-time performance made the library audience feel as if they were in the theater themselves.
The audience experience was wonderful. The resounding feeling was that it was a night that brought the community of Madison together and advanced the cause of making a more unified environment for children of all abilities.
Lisa Nee is a co-founder of Allen-Nee Productions, a production company that focuses on lifestyle programming and often produces content surrounding special needs. Nee is also a board member for Madison SEPTO.