People on the Autism Spectrum are our brothers, fathers, sisters, and mothers. Recently integrated into the public sphere, persons on the spectrum present us with a new and broader understanding of what is ‘normal’ or typical. Uncommon Sense is a project rooted in Iowa, about Iowa families, and communities affected by life on the spectrum. In preparation for a national tour, Uncommon Sense premiered January 21, 2017 at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa. This collaboration of almost five years was commisioned by Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, University of Northern Iowa, and originally developed and co-produced by Tectonic Theater Project, New York, NY, and Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center.
Under the artistic direction of Moisés Kaufman, recipient of the 2015 National Medal of Arts and co-founder of Tectonic Theater Project, Uncommon Sense introduces patrons to unique members of our Iowa family and does so with a sense of humor, love, and understanding. Countless hours were spent interviewing citizens of the Hawkeye State for the development of the production. As a result, many of the characters and their stories are composities of various Iowan experiences. Masterfully written and directed by Andy Paris and Anushka... READ MORE »
Can You Define Normal?
How it BeganHow it Began
What is our understanding of ‘typical’ behavior? What are our expectations of childhood development and what are the realities? When our daughter drifts into her own world, effectively there and not there, where does she go? What does she hear? What does she understand about the world that can only hope she will someday be able to communicate in?
The commissioning work of Uncommon Sense began in 2012 with interviews of Cedar Valley citizens conducted by Andy Paris and Anushka Paris-Carter. During three separate visits, Andy and Anushka met with a variety of family members and professionals who work and live on the autism spectrum. Additionally, fourteen University of Northern Iowa theatre students participated in a two-week residency with Andy and Anushka and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, with the focus of devising new theatrical works. Utilizing Tectonic’s Moment Work, the students were encouraged to actively engage with all elements of the stage, enfranchising writers, actors, designers, and directors to collaborate in compelling and theatrical storytelling.
And now, after years of development, workshopping and revision, actors - both on and off the spectrum - are ready to take the stage!
Gallagher Bluedorn's Story
Gallagher Bluedorn and the Tectonic Theater Project's relationship dates back to 2002 with the award winning presentation of The Laramie Project by Theatre UNI. Eight years later, Gallagher Bluedorn was happy to have Tectonic Theater Project back again, this time with it's production of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later. It was during the months that followed this visit that the two entities decided to join forces to explore the world of autism, thus beginning Gallagher Bluedorn's commissioning of Uncommon Sense.
In the last five years, Andy Paris and Anushka Paris-Carter have returned to the Cedar Valley many times to interview community members and to facilitate a residency with fourteen UNI students (2012-2013). Excitingly, because of Gallagher Bluedorn’s investment, Uncommon Sense will tour the nation in 2017 channeling Iowa stories and Iowa voices, in addition to voices from around the world, while building community and understanding.
What is a Commission?