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Uncommon Sense

Press Room

Kimberly Groninga, The Courier

CEDAR FALLS —  Uncommon Sense, an original play commissioned by Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, University of Northern Iowa and created and performed by Tectonic Theater Project of New York City, is an important play about people living on the autism spectrum. With a multi-level but simple set dressed mostly with light and projection, the play presented culled-from-life stories about daily struggles of real people we may not know live quietly among us.

I am struck, still, by the artistry Tectonic Theatre Project portrayed with simple and gentle props: rice tumbling out of a woman’s hand; laundered dress shirts inflating as they are tossed, drifting slowly down to the stage floor; cooked ramen spiraling around the actors’ faces and hands. It was beautiful in its simplicity and made me question how many aspects of life we dismiss without due examination and awe. Or worse: how many people?

The actors gave voice, dignity, and dimension to their characters — all of whom were based upon true stories collected in interviews which began in 2011. A standout among them was Scott Barrow who played the endearing character Dan with humor and heart.

I was also deeply moved by the women who played mothers of autistic sons and daughters. The fears we all have for our children — if they will encounter cruelty or kindness, if we will ever truly know them, if they will be OK when we die — are magnified for parents of children with special needs. The mothers in this production embodied those fears in a way that put pressure on my chest. I couldn’t help but imagine my own child in this situation and it took my breath away.

Along with compelling lighting, projection and acting, the senses were engaged again with the work of sound design. Even in the top balcony, I felt submerged in a body of water as the blurbs and sloshes of water sounds filled the auditorium. One of the characters found his safest home in water. As someone with a moderate fear of water, I was uncomfortable where he found peace. We are all different. The play asked, “What can Moose do that no one else can do?” He can find comfort under water for starters! What else? If we do not ask this question of all those we see as different, we will never know the answer. We will lose their contribution.

It strikes me, as well, that this project found sponsorship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Iowa Arts Council among other smaller organizations under threat of defunding by our country’s new leadership. I wouldn’t take this review to a political place, though, if the script had not done so first. A character, Annalise, a non-verbal young woman living with her mother, spoke her first-ever sentence through a speech device during the narrative. Her words: Hillary for president. When this sentence was deciphered and spoken out loud by another character, the audience cheered. In this play about voices we fail to hear, it’s tragic to think of the multitude of voices we will lose if our country succumbs to the idea that art is irrelevant.

Uncommon Sense is relevant. It’s also funny, tragic, important  and gorgeous.

Original Review

Clinton Olsasky, The Northern Iowan

CEDAR FALLS — “If you’ve met one person on the spectrum, you’ve met one person on the spectrum.”

This quote, which is featured in the new play Uncommon Sense, highlights how each person’s experience on the autism spectrum is uniquely individual – a theme that would repeatedly emerge throughout the play.

Uncommon Sense, the first play commissioned by the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC), was co-written by Andy Paris and Anushka Paris Carter of the Tectonic Theater Project, a theater company based in New York. The play premiered at the GBPAC this past weekend, on Saturday, Jan. 21 and Sunday, Jan. 22.

The show revolves around five distinct stories featuring characters whose experiences on the autism spectrum are as wide and varied as the characters themselves.

It should be noted that all the stories in Uncommon Sense were based on real experiences from Iowan families with family members are on the autism spectrum. Paris and Paris Carter, the play’s co-authors, had previously spent a year-long residency in Iowa interviewing families in the autism community and working with UNI’s theater department to develop what would become the show that premiered this past weekend.

And what a show it was.

From the moment the GBPAC’s Great Hall was plunged into darkness at the start of the play, I knew that I was about to see something wholly unique and original. What I didn’t know was just how emotionally poignant and impactful the following two hours would be.

At the start of the show, my eye was immediately drawn to the deceivingly complex set on stage, complete with floating platforms, ladders, doors and stairs – all illuminated by beams of light. As the show progressed, the set would continuously evolve and change to not only reflect the various locations of scenes, but to also convey the emotional and psychological states of certain characters on the autism spectrum.

One notable example was when a character was tracing a circle with their finger in the air, at which point the character’s movements were mirrored by the appearance of a slowly emerging circle composed of light on two giant panels on stage. (pictured)

The ability of the set and lighting designers to immerse the audience into the mind states of these characters was both remarkable and moving. Indeed, the sets and lighting proved just as vital to the successful realization of the play’s themes as the actors themselves.

Fortunately, the acting on display was equally as stirring.

As mentioned earlier, Uncommon Sense revolves around five different stories based on the experiences of real people.

These stories respectively focus on: Jess, a girl on the spectrum who confronts her social anxiety in college; the relationship between a mother and her autistic son Moose; another mother’s various attempts to coax her daughter Annalise into speaking; Merry Barua, whose autistic son inspires her to raise awareness in India; and Dan, a man with Asperger syndrome who has romance unexpectedly enter into his life.

Now, while these different stories never directly overlapped in the play, their respective characters repeatedly intersected thematically and emotionally. The play was structured so as to present a single scene or moment from one story before jumping to one of the other four.

As this process repeated, it became apparent how each story was linked to one another based on the emotions of certain characters. Although these characters’ experiences on the autism spectrum greatly differed, their respective stories constantly presented parallels that emanated from each character’s inherent humanity.

All of the cast members did an excellent job embedding this sense of humanity in their respective performances. The entire cast was able to convey a real, emotional depth to their characters that stemmed from a full awareness of the complexities of autism. At the same time, they weren’t afraid to inject some humor in their performances, which reinforced the full humanity of their characters.

In short, none of the characters came across as caricatures. Rather, they were presented as fully rounded human beings whose deepest and most profound fears and desires were made wholly relatable to those both on and off the spectrum.

If there is one criticism with Uncommon Sense, it is that the story of Merry Barua and her son seemed to get lost and even forgotten as the other four stories unfolded. I believe this was largely due to the simple fact that less stage time was devoted to this subplot as compared to the other stories. A more thorough exploration into the two characters’ mind states would easily remedy this relatively minor narrative shortfall.

After the performance, a talk back session was held in the lobby of the GBPAC, where the entire cast, along with the play’s co-authors and set designers, answered questions from those in attendance. At this session, numerous people who are either on the spectrum or have a loved one who is on the spectrum praised the play’s accurate portrayal of the condition.

Seeing the profound effect that the play had on people both in and outside the autism community was a true testament to the staggeringly honest and daring vision of Uncommon Sense.

Original Review

Iowa Arts Council

DES MOINES — In the theater, acting is all about building relationships with the audience. But what if the characters – or even the actors – were autistic? What if they have trouble communicating or expressing emotions?

Those are the first of several murky questions a new show called Uncommon Sense will raise at its upcoming world premiere at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

The show’s co-writers, Andy Paris and Anushka Paris-Carter, were inspired to launch the project after their daughter was placed on the autism spectrum in 2008. Her diagnosis was a cumbersomely titled condition called Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), which only prompted more questions: What is typical behavior? When their daughter seems to drift in and out, where does she go? What does she hear? And how will all of that shape her future?

With support from the New York-based Tectonic Theater Project (the company behind The Laramie Project and I Am My Own Wife) and a grant from the Iowa Arts Council, Andy and Anushka hooked up with the UNI theater department to organize what turned into an almost five-year collaboration. They interviewed people in the Cedar Falls area who live and work with autism, as well as family members and health-care professionals.

They also recruited more than a dozen UNI students to help shape the play into an experiential story they hope will resonate with viewers both on and off the spectrum. The script’s characters are composites of Andy and Anushka’s real-life interview subjects, Iowans who shared their stories about everyday life with autism – at school, at work, at the check-out counter at Hy-Vee.

In rehearsals, the results have been promising.

“I am on the spectrum, and this show has really reconnected me in a way that I didn’t think possible,” the actor Andrew Duff said in a video posted to the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center's website.

Early support for the project has come from folks in theater, education, health care and even politics.

“Autism speaks softly, but does not carry a big stick. Perhaps that’s the problem,” state Sen. Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls wrote on the performing art center's blog. “Autism is too often a lower priority when push comes to shove in the legislative agenda.”

After the show’s premiere, plans are in the works to take make it available nationwide, for other schools and community groups that could use it as a tool for social progress.

“If a production like this can help change the stigma and encourage acceptance, it might even change kids’ lives,” said Candice Baugh, a behavioral psychologist and clinical coordinator at the New York University’s Child Study Center.

The play looks “at the inner workings” of autism, co-writer Andy said. “On the surface, (it) maybe seems dangerous or off-putting, (but) if you pull the curtain back from that and understand what’s underneath it, then you can start a conversation.”

And that, of course, just opens up more questions.
“How is this a human condition?” Andy said. “How do we all share in this, and how can we take care of each other?”

...

Uncommon Sense
WHEN: 7 p.m. Jan. 21 and 2 p.m. Jan. 22
WHERE: Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls
DETAILS: gbpac.com

Original Article

John Stanish, Arts Overlook

CEDAR FALLS — For the first time the Gallagher Bluedorn has commissioned and is premiering an original play created by the Tectonic Theater Project and written by Anushka Paris Carter and Andy Paris. UNCOMMON SENSE, a project rooted in Iowa stories about Iowa families and communities affected by life on the spectrum. This three-year collaboration began with interviews of Iowans and captures our stories and the people of Iowa in the narrative of the play. 

Original Article

Amanda Gilbert, KWWL News

 

CEDAR FALLS — Giving us a better understanding of our community. A play coming to the University of Northern Iowa, focuses on Autism. After years of writing, research and preparation, New York City's Tectonic Theater Project is bringing the show Uncommon Sense to Cedar Falls this weekend. The show is about what life is like for people living on the autism spectrum. The writers interviewed people in the Cedar Valley and all over the world. The play also shows the audience how big the autism spectrum is, explaining how people living on opposite ends of the spectrum can having different kinds of challenges. Actors tells KWWL this show is a reminder that even though autism is a diagnosis, behind that diagnosis is a person who has so much to offer. Shows are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Gallagher Bluedorn. There's also a special dress rehearsal Friday night for the families who were interviewed for the play. If you would like to learn more about the play or buy your tickets, click here

Live Coverage & Original Article

Toni Wilson Wood, Iowa Theatre

WATERLOO — Theater has a long history of working for social and political change, as demonstrated recently by the Hamilton-Trump debacle in November, all the way back to the theater of ancient Greece and Rome. Uncommon Sense, the newest work by New York City based Tectonic Theater Project continues that long history as it brings its Gallagher Bluedorn commissioned work on autism to its stage, Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 2 p.m.

This collaboration was a result of The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later being performed at the University of Northern Iowa in 2002 and 2010 respectively. According to UNI’s website, it was after this that the two groups came together to explore autism. Andy Paris, one of the authors on The Laramie Project and a longtime member of Tectonic Theater Project, and his wife, Anushka Paris Carter, are the developers/creators of Uncommon Sense.

Tectonic Theater Project was founded in 1991 by Moises Kaufman and Jeffrey LaHoste. The name ‘tectonic’ represents the way this theater creates their works: by emphasizing the structure of theater and how theater is made, and how it could be created differently. Paris describes it as an inverted process. “We go in with ideas and stuff and figure out the narrative and script from there,” he said. “We mine theater for new form and help in forming the narrative.”

Tectonic Theater Project specializes in the created on social, political and human rights subjects “that haven’t been properly explored,” Paris Carter said. Their most well known work is The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, written about the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998.

Both Paris and Paris Carter have had experiences with people who have disabilities and with autism throughout their lives. Paris Carter remembered growing up with a father who had polio and when they would go down to the harbor to swim. “There were all these other World War II vets, who were missing limbs. We were surrounded by disability and it was normal for us.”

Early conversations about what would eventually become Uncommon Sense started in early 2011, with interviewing people all across the autism spectrum in fall 2011 and the first actual workshop for the work began in January 2012, continuing on into the UNI workshops in the 2012-2013 school year.

Paris found the dialogue around autism to be unsatisfactory. Beyond the unsatisfactory dialogue in existence, the issues surrounding a better understanding of autism is a human rights issue, said Paris. “There’s a struggle with the need to hide due to the stigma versus being open and honest and to push things forward,” Paris said. Tectonic Theater Project, with its background in creating works about human rights issues that haven’t been properly explored, made it the perfect group to mount a work like Uncommon Sense.

Paris and Paris Carter began their work on Uncommon Sense by interviewing people, starting with people in their own theater community in NYC and others in New York City, moving into Florida and North Carolina and Iowa, among other places across the globe. They did research online and came in contact with Alex Plank of Wrong Planet and Jack “Cubby” Robison, son of John Elder Robison and Mary Robison. “Once you talk to one [person involved with autism], you get three [more],” Paris said.

The commission with Gallagher Bluedorn was “a huge boon” for the project, according to Paris. He particularly cites Amy Hunzleman, Director of Education and Special Programming for Gallagher Bluedorn, as particularly helpful with introducing Paris, Paris Carter, and company to the community. “It was inspiring,” Paris said, “how the community in Cedar Falls operates. They advocate to legislators…it’s a very strong active community.” One of the things Paris remembers the most about the time spent in Cedar Falls was the time he and the other members of Tectonic Theater Project visited with the community at North Star. While there, they played theater games, and “had so much fun,” Paris said. “Getting to know them…such wonderful people.”

“Autism is a great social equalizer,” Paris Carter said, when talking about how their research on autism took them around the globe from the United States to India, Africa, Saudi Arabia and Japan, among others. “At the heart of it, it’s very basically human,” Paris said. “Once you begin noticing autism, once you realize it’s there, it’s everywhere.”

Unlike The Laramie Project where the characters are real people and the lines the characters speak are based precisely on actual interviews with the people involved in the work, Uncommon Sense takes something from every person interviewed, every place visited, every moment worked, and creates a composite of them. The show, from the creators to the actors to the designers have a deep connection to the autism world, either via friends and family living on the spectrum or by actually being on the spectrum themselves. Because of this, Paris Carter said, “They have a deeper understanding.”

“We want to make the world a better place through Uncommon Sense,” Paris said.

Based on what I personally know from being a participant in the workshops at UNI, I have no doubt Uncommon Sense will be a thought provoking piece of theater.

During those two semesters in the 2012-2013 school year, the students were given readings to read and videos and movies to watch while not working on making moments. During the actual workshops, the students gathered with members of Tectonic Theater Project and explored both form and topic. The moment work they did focused on the things that make theatre theatre: costumes, props, lights, sound, movement, pretty much everything but an actual script. The rest of the work was focused on autism, on asking questions about what autism is, what it isn’t, what it could actually be, what it’s like to have autism, and what someone on the spectrum might hear, see, taste and feel, and how that is different from people who are neurotypical. As the workshops went on, the moment work began to merge the form of theatre with the answers the participants were coming up with, and a form began to emerge: a play.

As a member of that workshop, I saw first hand the care and depth of thought that went into this work. Paris, intimidating at first, turned out to be a deep and a thoughtful man, who has laughing caramel colored eyes and a genuine and easy laugh. He and Paris Carter, a beautiful bouncing ball of Australian energy with a heart as wide as the distance from here to New York City, ran the workshops, along with a number of Tectonic Theater Project actors and designers, including Andrew Duff and Scott Barrow, who are also in Uncommon Sense.

I was excited and terrified of this class, even though I have a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts, am a playwright, actor, and director. I was the only person in the workshop who had been out of school already for a few years, and who worked full time and was over the age of 25. I also suffer from a bit of stage fright that years of improv training hadn’t completely taken away. The ‘moment work’ pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a place where magic takes place: where the moments are created. The feedback about the moments was most important. It was less about the worth of the moment, and more about what worked about what it was trying to communicate and what didn’t, and how that moment might be worked differently to create a moment with more strength.

This is all sounding very esoteric, I know, and it really kind of is. It’s hard to understand, and even harder to explain, but I will try. From the Tectonic Theater Project website page about the process:

Barbara Pitts McAdams, original cast member of The Laramie Project, speaks about creating the opening moment of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later:

Seated downstage, the opening speech wasn’t landing. We tried different edits and various acting notes, but it remained static and un-engaging. So I thought about the non-text elements that could help the storytelling. I asked myself, ‘What is Wyoming like? Windy, sunny, cold, prairie-covered. What is this speaker like? She’s intellectual, but also loves to hike.’ And through that exploration, I made a Moment.

I put on a puffy Northface jacket. I began offstage, and said, ‘Lights up on the wide, blue Wyoming sky. Sound cue: the Wyoming wind.’ I then moved slowly through the space, amidst chairs, as if hiking on the prairie, taking in the sun and wind, deep in thought. I paused, looked to the audience and spoke.

Using Moment Work, a theatrical world emerges and story unfolds, with or without text.

While not every moment worked well, each moment worked to inform each subsequent moment. The other students in the class were all UNI theatre students and they were brave, smart, intelligent and thoughtful, and all of this came through in their work in the class.

Uncommon Sense is a work that is a composite of everything that went into creating it; all the actors, designers, workshop students, interviewees, materials has come together to create the work that will grace the stage at Gallagher Bluedorn.

Original Article

Raul A. Reyes, NBC News

NEW YORK — Growing up gay in Venezuela, Moisés Kaufman* knew what it was like to feel like an outsider. The son of a Holocaust survivor, he was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family in a conservative, deeply Roman Catholic country - which led to profound feelings of isolation.

"The difficulty was that there were no role models," he told NBC News. "But I remember very vividly the first time I found the word 'homosexual' in the dictionary and being delighted, because I thought there must be one other person in the world who is homosexual because there is a word for it."

Today Moisés Kaufman, 52, is one of the most acclaimed playwrights and directors in the American theater.

In September, Kaufman was among a select group of Americans honored at the White House with the highly prestigious National Medal of the Arts. He termed the experience "exciting" because of his fellow honorees. "Some of those people are people I have admired all my life, like Mel Brooks, Sandra Cisneros," he said. "There was really a great sense of camaraderie between all of the recipients. And I love President Obama, so it was really wonderful to receive it from him."

Kaufman's plays been produced everywhere from Broadway to public high schools. He has been nominated for Tony and Emmy awards. And as his theater group celebrates its 25th anniversary, he can reflect on a body of work that has impacted social and cultural norms worldwide.

After attending college in Venezuela, Kaufman moved to New York City to study directing. He founded his theater company, Tectonic Theater Project, in 1991 with his now-husband Jeffrey LaHoste.

"We started it in the dining room of our apartment. The first four years, we were performing in church basements," Kaufman said. "Often there were more people onstage than in the house."

The Tectonic Theater Project uses a unique process for conceiving and reimagining theater known as "Moment Work." It enables actors, writers, designers, and directors to collaborate in creative storytelling.

Using this technique, Kaufman wrote and directed Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde in 1997. This off-Broadway play, which The New York Times called "absolutely gripping," utilized actual testimony and transcripts from the trials of the iconic Wilde. Kaufman won a Lambda Literary Award, an award given for works that explore LGBT themes, for Gross Indecency in 1998.

That same year, just three months after the brutal murder of gay student Matthew Shepard, Kaufman took his theater group to Laramie, Wyoming to interview people in the town where the killing had taken place. They conducted over 200 interviews, totaling 400 hours, and the company then used these oral histories to write The Laramie Project.

"The community was in shock," Kaufman recalled. "They never expected a murder like that to occur in their midst. We managed to capture, I think, something of the rawness and the experience the town was having at that time."

Actress Mercedes Herrero, who collaborated in the creation of The Laramie Project, described the process as "pretty extraordinary."

"I came from the Stanislavski (acting) tradition," Herrero said. "Moisés was using this experimental form, not only gathering interviews, but also literally writing current events as they were happening. This was a new kind of theater to me, and it was mind-blowing." Herrero, who co-stars in House of Cards, added that working with Kaufman has made her "a more politically aware being."

The Laramie Project, about the town's reaction to Shepard's brutal killing, went on to become one of the most acclaimed plays of the year, and one of the most-produced works of the decade. It has been performed worldwide, and is often used to educate people about homophobia and anti-LGBT violence. It was also made into an HBO film written and directed by Kaufman.

Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, told NBC News that The Laramie Project was very special to her. "I think everybody can relate to an actor who is on stage. The audience is seeing somebody who is like them," she said. "It brings home how differently we all feel about things, and how we respond to things."

"It (the play) is not specifically about Matt," Shepard pointed out. "But it shows how society looks when we don't accept each other for who we are. It shows what happens when we are at odds with each other for no reason." Shepard said that she hears from people all over the country who have "come out" as LGBT after seeing or having been a part of the play. "Moisés has absolutely moved the needle in terms of how people view bullying and hate crimes against LGBT people," said Shepard.

Kaufman and his theater company revisited Laramie to produce The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later in 2008.

In 2003, Kaufman directed the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play I Am My Own Wife on Broadway. Also on Broadway, in 2009 he directed Jane Fonda in 33 Variations, and Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo in 2011. Kaufman's most recent Broadway show was a 2012-2013 revival of The Heiress, starring Jessica Chastain.

"He is a lovely person, with a really nice energy," said casting director James Calleri, who worked with Kaufman on 33 Variations. "Actors seem to want to work with him a lot," said Calleri. "And he has very strong feelings about what the work should be."

The fact that Kaufman's work has dealt with controversial themes, Calleri stated, has contributed to its success in regional productions. "His stuff has been very on-topic and present, which, if anything, has helped it have an impact outside New York, in colleges and in local productions. The Laramie Project has even been done in high schools."

Kaufman's plays have generated their share of controversy. When The Laramie Project was first being produced at colleges, there were protests from people who claimed it was being used to recruit students into homosexuality. Last year, Russia cut off funding for a production of Gross Indecency at the Moscow New Drama Theater because of its gay themes.

Kaufman is currently working on an adaptation of the opera Carmen, and has several events planned for this fall. On November 7, Jane Fonda will host the 25th anniversary gala for the Tectonic Theater Project. The event will feature celebrities reading excerpts from Tectonic's plays, including The Laramie Project and 33 Variations.

On November 10, Kaufman will be presented with the American Artist Award by Arena Stage in Washington D.C. The Artistic Director of Arena Stage, Molly Smith, said that she was proud to have known Kaufman for almost two decades. "I watched him in the initial stages of developing The Laramie Project. I have been so moved by his combination of theater, social commentary, and political fervor in the projects he has taken on," Smith said. "He is a bold theater artist, and I think our audience loves that."

When Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Smith noted, the president had Kaufman there as a recognition of the impact of his work.

Smith also mentioned that Kaufman was "one of the most gracious and warm individuals you could ever meet."

Throughout his career, Kaufman has dealt with issues of identity. "People say to me, are you a Latino writer? Are you a gay writer? Are you a Jewish writer? And I say yes to all," he said. 

 

"If I am any good at what I do, then I'm a Latino writer and I am a Jewish writer and I'm a gay writer, and I'm a New York writer. And I'm a writer of all the things that I am as a human being."

 

Still, Kaufman said that LGBT youth continue to face challenging circumstances as they grow up. "Anyone who has ever had the experience of coming out will tell you that it is a process. It is a process for the person coming out, and for the people you are coming out to," he said. In his case, he explained, because his work dealt so publicly with issues of gender and sexuality, his parents had to learn how to deal with it.

Although Kaufman describes his mother and late father as "very proud and supportive" of his work, he stressed that young LGBT kids often struggle with acceptance. "The question of whether things are getting better for LGBT youth is a complicated one," he said.

"On the one hand, yes, they are getting better. Having said that, there is an epidemic of bullying in high school, especially against LGBT kids," Kaufman continued, mentioning the high rates of suicide and depression among LGBT youth.

"So I think that yes, things are getting better," said the playwright. "But there is still a lot of work to do."

 

* Moisés Kaufman is the Artistic Director for Uncommon Sense.

Original Article

University Relations, UNI

CEDAR FALLS — Andy Paris, director of Uncommon Sense, and Andrew Duff, an actor on the autism spectrum performing in Uncommon Sense, will present “Uncommon Sense: An Exploration of Autism Using Theatrical Form” at the 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Summit on Friday, Oct. 14, at Allen College.

The Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center has also invited Paris and Duff to visit classes in the communications and theatre departments at UNI to speak about inciting social change through the use of performance and theatre.

Uncommon Sense is a theatrical work commissioned by the Gallagher Bluedorn and developed by Tectonic Theater Project of New York, elevating awareness about the autism spectrum. The play follows the lives of multiple families of persons with autism, including stories from Iowa. Intricately woven to encompass different viewpoints, it provides the audience with a rounded perspective of a day in the life.

The Gallagher Bluedorn seeks to raise awareness of individuals who work and live on the autism spectrum. The goal of this production centers around facilitating critical consideration of neurodiversity and disrupting the labeling attached to differently abled bodies. Extraordinarily, 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 acceptance.

Uncommon Sense premieres at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, and at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22, at the Gallagher Bluedorn. Tickets can be purchased at any UNItix location, at www.gbpac.com/uncommonsense or by calling 319-273-4849.

University Relations, UNI

CEDAR FALLS — The Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center has invited Andy Paris, director of Uncommon Sense, and Andrew Duff, an actor on the autism spectrum performing in Uncommon Sense, to visit classes in the communications and theatre departments at the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday, Oct. 13, to speak about inciting social change through the use of performance and theatre.

The Gallagher Bluedorn, with support from the Iowa Arts Council, is also sponsoring a Listening Forum with Legislators at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13, in the Cedar Falls Public Library. The listening forum will feature individuals who work with, care for and/or live on the autism spectrum and offer a new and broader understanding of what is “normal.”

Uncommon Sense is a theatrical work commissioned by the Gallagher Bluedorn and developed by Tectonic Theater Project of New York, elevating awareness about the autism spectrum. The play follows the lives of multiple families of persons with autism, including stories from Iowa. Intricately woven to encompass different viewpoints, it provides the audience with a rounded perspective of a day in the life.

The Gallagher Bluedorn seeks to raise awareness of individuals who work and live on the autism spectrum. The goal of this production centers around facilitating critical consideration of neurodiversity and disrupting the labeling attached to differently abled bodies. Extraordinarily, 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 acceptance.

Uncommon Sense premieres at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, and at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22, at the Gallagher Bluedorn. Tickets can be purchased at any UNItix location, at www.gbpac.com/uncommonsense or by calling 319-273-4849.

University Relations, UNI

CEDAR FALLS — The Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center has partnered with the University of Northern Iowa’s Alpha Xi Delta to sponsor Where Are We Now at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13, in the auditorium of Lang Hall. Andrew Duff, an actor on the autism spectrum performing in Uncommon Sense, will share his personal journey in a one-man show that involves living with autism and the prospect of being “better” in a normal society. A “Living With Autism” panel discussion and reception will follow.

The panel discussion will include Duff; Dakota Funk, a 2014 graduate of UNI and current Master of Social Work graduate student; and Ashley Petty, a 2013 graduate of UNI and current English teacher for the Waterloo School District.

The Gallagher Bluedorn has also invited Duff and Andy Paris, director of Uncommon Sense, to visit classes in the communications and theatre departments at UNI to speak about inciting social change through the use of performance and theatre.

Uncommon Sense is a theatrical work commissioned by the Gallagher Bluedorn and developed by Tectonic Theater Project of New York, elevating awareness about the autism spectrum. The play follows the lives of multiple families of persons with autism, including stories from Iowa. Intricately woven to encompass different viewpoints, it provides the audience with a rounded perspective of a day in the life.

The Gallagher Bluedorn seeks to raise awareness of individuals who work and live on the autism spectrum. The goal of this production centers around facilitating critical consideration of neurodiversity and disrupting the labeling attached to differently abled bodies. Extraordinarily, 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 acceptance.

Uncommon Sense premieres at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, and at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22, at the Gallagher Bluedorn. Tickets can be purchased at any UNItix location, at www.gbpac.com/uncommonsense or by calling 319-273-4849.

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