Autistic performers share their own stories in an outdoor production which turns Naoki Higashida’s remarkable book into a journey through a labyrinth
The theatre can be a difficult place for people with autism. I remember taking my son when he was younger. I could feel him squirming, trapped in the seat next to me, confused by the strange convention where people seem to be talking to you but you are not allowed to talk back. The darkened auditorium filled with surprises and the lack of control over the experience made for a situation that could have been designed to make a young autistic person anxious – second, perhaps, only to mainstream education, as we were soon to discover.
So when faced with staging Naoki Higashida’s extraordinary book The Reason I Jump, about his experiences as an autistic teenager, we wanted to make something that didn’t behave like a conventional theatre show. How could we give the audience – autistic or otherwise – more control of the experience and a say in how the story unfolds?