May 18, 6:30 – 10pm, New Diorama ND2, NW1 3HG
An invitation from Griffyn Gilligan:
Hello! I’m an actor and theatre maker with ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder. More and more companies and venues are thinking about being accessible to audiences with autism – holding relaxed performances, creating visual guides, and creating work specifically for young people with autism. These steps are just the beginning of some great things.
But, where do makers and artists with autism fit in?
How do we hold practices and making rooms that have space for makers with ASD to engage fully in the work?
How does the industry and our language shut out makers?
How can we make work for audiences with ASD when so many making processes themselves are inaccessible?
What insights, modes of working, and styles of communication could enhance and embolden our work just by understanding and welcoming neurodiversity into the room?
Autism is a condition that affects how the brain processes information – everything from the rules of an improv exercise to the level of light in a room. It affects everyone uniquely. So, while there are common challenges, there are no blanket answers to any of these questions. No definite solutions or any surefire way to support every/any individual with autism.
I think that incredibly few practices are accessible, let alone supportive, to artists with autism. And even fewer rooms are having conversations about how and why to work with artists with ASD. Too often, impulsivity, highly-social networking, intuition, and working in the unknown are taken as the hallmarks of a rigorous creative process. When that lens dominates the conversation, there’s very little language or space left for artists with ASD to create, discuss their work, or even introduce themselves. I believe a lot of really talented artists are being pushed away and into critical or academic roles, or away from theatre entirely, simply because there is a communication difference we haven’t really begun to look at.
Maybe you are already thinking about this in your practice?
Maybe you think creative rooms are already really accessible?
Maybe you have loads of ideas on what to do and no one to share them with?
Maybe you really don’t know much about ASD or you’re really nervous about getting it wrong? Maybe you are an artist with ASD and you’ve had a similar experience and want to vent?
Or, maybe you have ASD and you totally disagree with me!
In any case, please come along to listen, rant, propose, scheme, dream, hope, worry, ask and share.
I want to hear your stories and thoughts. I want us to make that list of questions a lot longer, and then maybe begin to answer a few of them together. I want to meet you and I want you to meet each other. And, hopefully, we can take some thoughts and conversations back to our own lives and practices, and go from there.
@laura_annelliot Thanks @DandDUK for a thought provoking day & excellent conversation. Leaving buzzing to make things happen that aren’t currently happening
D&D is one of the places I go to learn how to live in the future that I want. – Chris Goode
Improbable have been running Devoted & Disgruntled (D&D) – an ongoing international conversation about theatre and the performing arts – using Open Space, since 2005.
“D&D was born out of frustration. I was frustrated both with theatre and with myself. I knew things could be better in theatre and I also knew the way I responded to that situation could be more creative…and I wanted to do something about it.
D&D events and the community that has developed around them involve people taking responsibility for making better theatre and making theatre better. D&D has become a way to engage with the stuff in the wider theatre world I only knew how to complain about before.” Phelim McDermott (Artistic director)
Open Space Technology (OST) is a format which supports groups to self-organise and collaborate around an area of shared concern or interest. All participants have the chance to propose a starting point for discussion, take part in any of the conversations or flit between them all. It is particularly effective in dealing with complex issues where diverse and conflicting views are present.
Over the last 25 years OST has been used across the world in an incredible range of contexts: to design aeroplane doors, resolve land disputes, address economic, environmental, social, political and artistic issues of every kind. Groups of six and of six hundred have used it with equal success.
The events are liberating because they create an environment of possibility. A place where we are confronted with the refreshing yet challenging realisation that things will only change if we decide to make them. Often this situation can leave us feeling that we have to do everything on our own. However D&D Open Spaces offer immediate access to the people who might support and help us do it. We meet each other outside of our usual roles and conversations happen, not mediated through the usual hierarchical structures, but through our passion.
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