Thank you for attending the premiere performances of Tectonic Theater Project's Uncommon Sense!
We were delighted to have you join the Cedar Valley community as we gathered to hear stories from our friends near and throughout the world, considering the spectrum of neurodiversity.
Uncommon Sense offers Iowans a national stage to engage the world in powerful dialogue, not only furthering the development of awareness, but more so, nurturing deeper understanding and sincere appreciation for persons on the spectrum.
The most impactful part of working with Tectonic Theater Project (TTP) in 2012 and 2013 was coming to a new understanding of a topic I knew virtually nothing about. I had read a few articles, etc. about the Autism Spectrum but had no real idea of what it meant, or how it manifests differently among different people. I had no sense of how Spectrum Disorders work at all. Learning along with my peers through the medium of devised theater brought everything into much clearer focus. To tell the story, we really had to break down the different sensory, thematic, and spatial elements that a person on the Spectrum would encounter, and approach it from that point of view.
Furthermore, I had never done devised theater before, so the working style of the team from TTP was very foreign to me. I appreciated their openness and collaboration, and really respected the perspectives of actors who were out in the world creating new work. They treated every idea that the students had as worthy of exploring, and when we began mixing and matching our scenes and ideas together, I think we (the students) were all amazed at how powerful our ideas could be.
My favorite memory was working on the two platforms that had plexiglass tops, were lit from underneath, and rolled! I had helped to build the platforms in the scene shop, and getting to explore how we could use them for the project was amazing. They were versatile, and opened up a whole new way to make our scenes.
While none of us can truly walk in another’s shoes, I feel that the attempt has not only made me more conscious of how other people can perceive the world, but also more willing to look at standard elements of theatre (light, sound, space, people, etc.) in a whole new way in terms of how they can be used to help the audience partake in the world of the play. In summary, I would definitely repeat the experience! I loved collaborating with my peers and learning together. If we were all to come back and do it again now, it would be interesting to see how our ideas have changed and what we would come up with!
As a mental health provider, working with children, I see so many of the real life stories presented in Uncommon Sense. This piece truly brings to life more than just a diagnosis on a piece of paper or a letter home from a school teacher; these are the lives of our truly exceptional and those who love them.
Being part of this project was more than a moment to create art representing life. As I was reading the part of a young man, sharing his need for belonging -- pleading for acceptance -- while showing true compassionate love for those around him, I felt a small aspect of what my own clients aspire to share. We spend so much time finding strategies, practicing skills, building confidence to say the very words this character shared. It was then that it truly hit home that this isn't a character, this is more than a backstory... this is the narrative of a human's life, an exceptional person trying to share their personal narrative with those who cannot see nor feel their full experience.
For this opportunity, I am deeply honored and humbled. The importance of this brilliant piece is paramount; the impact, so great.