An Adelaide theatre ensemble is set to bring the autistic experience and its challenges in daily life to the stage with Impersonal Space.
Brought to life by Company AT with support from Tutti Arts and written by local playwright Emily Steele, Impersonal Space aims to show audiences what life is like for an autistic child. The story follows ‘Nameless’, a nine year old girl with a fondness for star-gazing and hot chips, as she makes her way through school. Nameless is bullied for her difference from others, and her hyper-intelligence makes her a target even more so, leading to feelings of isolation and confusion.
A medical diagnosis confirms that Nameless has autism, and with that clarity she takes comfort in luminary geniuses like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, who some speculate might have been on the spectrum themselves.
Impersonal Space’s director Julian Jaensch tells The Adelaide Review that he expects audiences attending to learn not just about the experience of autism in general, but “about how to understand the individual identity of an autistic person and more importantly, what makes them a person.”
Company AT’s players have been instrumental of the development of the show’s script as well, says Jaensch. “They have had a lot to do with the creative process being the instigators of content and scenes that was material for the writer to write the script, so it has been a very fun and empowering experience for the ensemble,” he says.
“It has also been a challenging one as well, just in the hard work and discipline required in putting on the show itself, but they have all learned so much through that process as well.”
On the subject of the discrimination Nameless endures for her difference from other children, Jaensch believes this gulf of understanding is common, and must be bridged.
“Autistic people still experience discrimination through a lack of understanding by other people, and the only way to overcome that is through knowledge,” he says. “Education through art, like in Impersonal Space, and other education and examples of autistic people achieving in a diverse range of industries, is the only way to change the world.”
Old Queen’s Theatre, Playhouse Lane
Until October 28
Tickets via trybooking.com
Photography: Sam Oster