Imagining Autism Heads to Dallas, Texas

Back in November, Nicola and Melissa flew to Texas to present the project at the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) conference, ‘You are Here: The Post Thematic Conference’, 7th – 10th November 2013.

Nicola and Melissa presented a performance inspired by the film arising from the project, ‘Now I see the World’ (a collaboration with documentary film maker, Sarah Turner), and the book written by a thirteen year old Japanese autistic boy, Naoki Higashida, ‘The Reason I Jump’. They presented the film in sections interspersed with commentaries on their own experiences of living with autism, discoveries from the project about imagination and humour, and quotations from the book. Performance was undercut throughout by irreverent commentary from a subversive puppet who had appeared in the project and helped to demonstrate sabotage in action.

In spite of Nicola having lost her voice (due to too much socialising the night before), the situation was saved by Melissa’s background in professional theatre. She forced Nicola to stick her head over a bucket of steaming water just before the performance, an old theatre remedy, which did the trick.

This is the first time that performance has been used at the ASTR conference and Nicola and Melissa’s performance attracted one of the largest audiences from the conference, with very positive feedback.

The film, ‘Now I see the World’, will be completed this term and screened on Friday 21st March 2014 at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury at 6pm and will be published in the Routledge Digital Archive.