7 Stages Theatre http://www.7stages.org Where Else? Fri, 29 Apr 2016 19:47:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Georgia Tech professor tackles autism advocacy in her new book http://www.7stages.org/georgia-tech-professor-tackles-autism-advocacy-new-book/ Fri, 29 Apr 2016 00:13:01 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6735 We spoke to Jennifer Singh, assistant professor at Georgia Tech, about her new book on autism, Multiple Autisms: Spectrums of Advocacy and Genomic Science. Read our interview with the author below: Q. Your book uses data from over 70 interviews with scientists, parents, and people living with autism. What was it like mapping out all this […]

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Jennifer S. Singh, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor School of History, Technology and Society Ivan Allen College Georgia Institute of Technology

Jennifer S. Singh, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
School of History, Technology and Society
Ivan Allen College
Georgia Institute of Technology

We spoke to Jennifer Singh, assistant professor at Georgia Tech, about her new book on autism, Multiple Autisms:
Spectrums of Advocacy and Genomic Science. Read our interview with the author below:

Q. Your book uses data from over 70 interviews with scientists, parents, and people living with autism. What was it like mapping out all this research?

A. Mapping out this much data is always a challenge. The approach I take is to start the data analysis immediately. As soon as I conduct an interview, I write theoretical memos on key themes that are identified and new questions that arise, which shapes the direction of my research. I take a grounded theory approach, which is a systematic approach for gathering, synthesizing, analyzing, and conceptualizing qualitative data to construct theory. In other words, I constructed the meanings of autism from the ground up, starting with interviews from people living with autism. Once I have established central themes, I incorporate focused coding of the data to help sythesize and explain larger segments of the data. I also developed situational maps that helped me to identify  and connect human and non human elements/actors/actants, collective human elements/actors, as well as implicated/silent actors/actants. This is an approach developed by my PhD Advisor, Dr. Adele Clarke.

Q. What interview resonated the most with you?

A. The interviews that resonated with me the most were the ones I conducted with people who have autism. These were my first set of interviews, which I started before I knew very much about autism. This is traditionally how grounded theory should be conducted. Among these interviews, I had the opportunity to meet a young women who was newly diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. She was 33 years old and was able to reflect on her entire life not quite understanding her battles with anxiety, social communication, and anorexia. I keep coming back to this interview because it demonstrates how girls and women are overlooked in the screening and diagnosis process (boys are diagnosed 4 times more than girls) and how gendered stereotypes shape how certain symptoms are interpreted over others. I think I listened to her interview the most because shared with me such intimate details of how she interprets the world. She told me it was like trying to communicate in a foreign language without an interpreter and the constant work she does to try and keep all the elements of a social conversation in her head. These interviews also resonate in my new research on working with adults on the autism spectrum with life transition issues, especially in areas of independent living, employment, and long-term health.

Q. During your time as a sociologist of science, technology, and medicine at Georgia Tech, have you found a community of autism advocates and people living with autism here in Atlanta?

A. Yes! As I indicated earlier, I am working with the Atlanta Autism Consortium (AAC) to develop community-based intervention workshops that target the needs of adults living on the spectrum in metro Atlanta. The AAC is a non-profit organization that consists of a broad range of stakeholders, including: autism researchers, public health professionals, educators, service providers, policy makers, and people with autism and their families. Over the years the AAC has developed a closer relationship with a group of autistic self-advocates who are helping us identify and develop an agenda on how the AAC can utilize it’s network to focus on adult quality of life issues. I advertised the play to the AAC and we would love to organize a group to come to the play.

Q. Since the publishing of your book, how has autism awareness progressed or digressed in Atlanta?

A. This book was just published (Jan 2016), so I am uncertain how to answer this question other than to say that in Atlanta, organizations like the AAC, have really help over the years to organize different stakeholders to target specific agendas. For example, they helped to write the Insurance reform bill (Ava’s Law) that was passed in Georgia. This requires employment-based insurance to cover autism therapies such as applied behavioral analysis or occupational therapy. There are so many grass roots efforts throughout Georgia, many that are initiated by parents. One is the Parent to Parent Network, which provides a much needed service to parents who are newly diagnoses help navigate the complex systems of care in Georgia. They are especially useful for low-income and under served families. This state is certainly not the best for autism services and has limits compared to other parts of the U.S. I am however, seeing a movement in the Latino Community through efforts by the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State. Again, this is being charged by a parent with a child with autism who understands the complexities of navigating the system in a different language. So much more work to do here, which is also another new area of research for me.

 

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Connections School of Atlanta fills education gap http://www.7stages.org/connections-school-of-atlanta-fills-education-gap/ Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:24:55 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6666 The post Connections School of Atlanta fills education gap appeared first on 7 Stages Theatre.

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Connections logo vertical-01Alison Auerbach from Connections School of Atlanta will be in attendance at both of our sensory friendly performances of INSIDE I, April 28 at 8 PM, and May 7 at 2 PM. Below she talks about Connections School, why it is necessary, and how we can all work on being more inclusive:

Q. How did Connections School of Atlanta, a secondary school choice for children with autism and similar neuro-developmental challenges, get started?

A. CSA was started by a group of parents of current and former students at The Hirsch Academy, a DIR/Floortime-based K-8 school in Decatur. Our children thrive thanks to Hirsch’s unique combination of therapeutic support and academic challenge, and we want that experience to continue into their high school years.
When we first came together to discuss what we want for our children’s education, we articulated a set of core values and goals to which we were all committed. Since we had yet to find these values and goals reflected to our satisfaction in the existing options for our children, our choice was clear: Encourage our children to change themselves to fit the available programs, or create a place that embraces our children just as they are.

Core Goals:
We want our students to embrace their strengths and learn to overcome their challenges while maintaining a sense of pride in who they are.
We want our students to understand “different” doesn’t mean “less,” but does require knowing how to ask for what you need.
We want to see our students able to both adapt to the world around them and demand the world meet them halfway.

Core Values:
We believe different is not less: We are not here to fix or cure our students, because we do not believe they are broken.
We presume competence in all of our students: We assume our students have the desire and capability to learn and to engage with the world.
We promote self-respect and self-advocacy: We teach our students to identify their specific needs, and to believe they deserve to have those needs met.
We honor each student’s individual learning style(s) and sensory profile: We strive to tailor the educational experience to best fit the way each student absorbs, processes and expresses information.

Q. We scoped out the website and it’s very apparent how experienced and dedicated the staff is to Connections’ cause. What sort of impact do these professionals have on the students and their time at Connections?

A. Our founding board is beyond grateful we are able to begin Connections’ first year with such a highly qualified, experienced and dedicated staff. They are truly our “dream team,” and have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to bringing our vision to life.

Our students will spend every school day with teachers who believe they are extraordinary, intelligent and gifted individuals with the power to change the world. They will learn from teachers who measure success in terms of individual progress, rather than external, generic standards. They will be guided in their explorations by teachers who understand every student learns best at his or her own pace, and know education is not a race.
This type of teaching naturally reflects our core goals and values, and helps instill them in our students. It shows our students difference is beautiful and valuable, and acceptance should be the norm for which we all strive. Ultimately, teachers like ours help our students develop the confidence to walk with their heads held high through a world often harshly critical of difference.

Q. Inside I wants to create a space where audiences can understand the perspective of someone on the autism spectrum. Other than setting up plays and partnerships, what do you think the Atlanta community can do to enhance autism awareness?

A. While April is popularly known as Autism Awareness Month, Connections chooses to support the autistic self-advocates who refer to it as Autism Acceptance Month. This difference is more than semantic: “Awareness” suggests it is enough to be aware of autism’s existence and what it looks like. “Acceptance” demands we listen to autistic people’s voices and accept their perspectives as valid.

(Incidentally, many autistic advocates deliberately choose not to use “person first” language such as “people with autism.” I once heard an autistic advocate explain it more or less like this: In conversation, we refer to French people or English people or Vietnamese people. Autism is my country, my identity. It should come first. Your best bet is to ask autistic individuals which terminology they prefer.)

With this key distinction in mind, perhaps the most helpful thing neurotypical Atlantans can do to enhance autism acceptance and to create safe spaces for autistics is to include a wide range of autistic people in the conversation. Ask them what will make them feel more welcome in Atlanta communities, and listen to their answers.

Q. How can the Atlanta community help in creating safe spaces for people who have autism or similar developmental challenges?

A. Be aware some autistic people might communicate in unfamiliar ways, or even very differently from one another. As the saying goes, “If you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.”

Be prepared to provide some autistic people with more processing time during conversations. A long pause after your questions does not necessarily mean that the autistic person doesn’t know the answer or has nothing to say. That person might know the answer before you even finish the question, and need extra time to get the words from brain to mouth.
Recognize nonverbal autistic people are not deaf or stupid: Presume competence regardless of verbal ability. Imagine how frustrating it would be to have your body refuse to cooperate when you want to speak, or to be taught the same material over and over again for years because you can’t express understanding in the ways others expect. Assume they hear and understand everything you say.

Recognize the brain-body disconnect. Some autistic people find it challenging to get their bodies to do what they want them to do and their mouths to say what they want them to say. Be aware that what you see (or hear) could be just a tiny sliver of that person’s story.

Put the “Rainman” stereotype to rest for good. Move beyond mainstream movie and television portrayals of autism, and learn from real-life autistic people. Yes, Temple Grandin is wonderful, but there’s a world of other lesser-known and just as wonderful autistic advocates out there, including Ido Kedar (idoinautismland.com) and Emma Zurcher-Long (emmashopebook.com).

At this time, few high school programs specifically for autistic adolescents exist within the Atlanta perimeter. Fewer still presume competence in and believe in the unlimited potential of their autistic students. And even fewer open their doors to nonverbal students. For some of our students, Connections is the only thing standing between them and four years of sitting in a corner watching cartoons, unable to communicate their desire to learn and grow.

Our students require individualized attention and a very low student-teacher ratio, which necessitates a very high tuition that still does not cover all of our expenses. Please consider supporting autism acceptance with a small (or large) donation to help our extraordinary students meet their needs.

All of us at Connections thank 7 Stages, Michael Haverty, Erwin Maas and Sam Gross for their commitment to making autistic voices heard.

For more information, visit ConnectionsSchoolofAtlanta.com!

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The Pacha Mamas join us for April’s Home Brew! http://www.7stages.org/the-pacha-mamas-join-us-for-aprils-home-brew/ Tue, 26 Apr 2016 21:06:17 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6679 The post The Pacha Mamas join us for April’s Home Brew! appeared first on 7 Stages Theatre.

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imageOn Saturday, April 30 at noon, The Pacha Mamas’ will present their newest work, A Touch of Goddesspell aka Guardians of Gaia. The presentation is free and is sponsored by Three Taverns Brewery. Join us next Saturday for free local beer and art, and then head down to the Inman Park Festival in time for the parade.

Below, we spoke to Angela Bennett, one of the members of The Pacha Mamas about their new work, and why we need to reconnect with Mother Earth and stop devaluing the feminine spirit:

Q. A Touch of Goddesspell aka Guardians of Gaia came out of the need to introduce some topics that you were working with in Goddesspell the Musical. What part of working on this prequel to Goddesspell the Musical has been most beneficial and why was it important to step away and work on A Touch of Goddesspell before finishing Goddesspell the Musical?

A. The idea of Goddesspell as a musical theatre piece came out of the desire to really look at the ways we devalue the feminine spirit or yin energy and the effects that this has not only on us personally but on humanity in general. The glorification of masculine energy at the expense of the feminine principle is reflected in our world in many ways that we have come to just accept as normal including seeing God as a man. Goddesspell, up until last year was a concept in my mind and on paper. When we (The Pacha Mamas) really started developing it as an actual living breathing show, we realized that in order to address all the goddess archetypes that we would be presenting with integrity, the process was going to take much more time and resources than we originally thought. At the same time, we all were feeling concern for the environment, our Mother Earth, and the critical place we are with those issues. It occurred to us that our misuse and abuse of our natural resources is a direct reflection of our devaluing of yin/feminine energy – that it is all connected. So putting these concerns together- the length of time and the amount of support/resources we would need to build to really do Goddesspell justice AND our sense of urgency for transformation around the ways in which we relate to Mother Earth, we came up with what we are calling “Guardians of Gaia” AKA “A Touch of Goddesspell” which has elements of what Goddesspell will be but can stand on it’s own as an hour long show that we can more easily take on mini-tours (along with an offering of a companion workshop as an opportunity to delve into the subject deeper as a community) to mostly our familiar stomping grounds to begin with as soon as this fall.

Q. A Touch of Goddesspell is all about Mother Earth and our connection with her, good and bad. Tell audiences a little more about why you wanted to focus on this topic now?

A. We are living unsustainably on the earth right now. We are trashing the earth to be quite frank and some people don’t really want to look at that especially if they don’t feel it’s affecting them directly and other people are just too busy trying to keep their own lives above water to try and deal with one more problem so to speak. This is obviously a completely disempowering way of looking or not looking at the issues. The fact is that what is happening is affecting us all NOW whether we choose to look at it or not. And here is where I will give you one quote from the end of our little show to make this point: “The earth is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. The earth is part of our own self and we are part of its suffering wholeness. Until we go to the root of our image of separateness, there can be no healing. And the deepest part of our separateness from creation lies in our forgetfulness of its sacred nature, which is also our own sacred nature.” The fact is, so many of us have become completely disconnected from our inherent and interconnected sacred nature and it’s being reflected in a very unbalanced and violent world.

Q. Your work as a group is a mixture of music, spoken word, movement and exudes energy. Why did you choose to create performances that encompassed so many art forms, and what do you want audiences to take away from this mixture of creation?

A. Well, I think the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that The Pacha Mamas came together previously having many different kinds of experiences in the performing arts and each one of us came in with a different specialization. For example, most of Marquetta’s formal artistic training has been in dance, Vivian’s in music and mine in theatre. So we are all bringing these different gifts to the table and finding that it’s fun and interesting and more fulfilling for us to mix it up or combine things- not only for us but for our audiences. All these forms compliment and add depth to each other and it’s sort of a reflection of life really and the beauty and depth that is found in the diversity of people’s gifts especially when expressed in collaboration. In general, we want audiences to feel energized, inspired, engaged and uplifted by what we do and how we do it.

Q. Home Brew is all about aiding local artists in developing their work, as well as exposing Atlanta audiences to local artists. What has been the best part of developing this piece as part of the Home Brew Series, and how does it aid in the next steps?

A. This opportunity has actually been much more significant for us than I think we originally anticipated. I am so grateful for it and we haven’t even had our presentation yet because honestly it really is about the process at this point. As individual artists, The Pacha Mamas are all piecing together our living in very creative ways through many different means. By most people’s standards, we live on the edge financially which is a price many artists pay but wouldn’t have it any other way out of integrity to our creative spirit/freedom. SO to coordinate the schedules of all three of us in order to find chunks of time to develop/create together is very difficult. BUT when you have a deadline, you go way out of your way to make it happen which is what we have been doing. So at this moment the fact that we have a definite place and time to share our work has been a huge catalyst in the actual creation of this piece so far. We are so thankful for the sense of purpose Home Brew has given us.   The idea that there are people out there that believe in what we are doing enough to help support us in making it happen is HUGE.   It’s not that easy to get support in developing new work and it usually requires a lot of voluntary time from the artists. I feel like the root of this comes from a real disconnect in our culture when it comes to the things we value in general and in particular valuing product over process. I’m looking forward to the kind of world where art and especially the kind that really engages the audience in inquiry is truly valued for the power that it has to help make the world a more spiritually and emotionally healthy place, translating into more true joy, love and peace all around!!! I believe as we begin to hold those aspects of ourselves that are considered yin/feminine energy in much higher esteem, creating more balance within ourselves, we will begin to see this change in the world.   Ultimately, I’m hoping that Guardians of Gaia is one of the things that helps facilitate that change and with the help of the Home Brew program that feels much more feasible to us.

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Meet Luis Hernandez http://www.7stages.org/meet-luis-hernandez/ Tue, 19 Apr 2016 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6673 The post Meet Luis Hernandez appeared first on 7 Stages Theatre.

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IMG_6894Luis Hernandez has been a part of Inside I since the workshop process. He has seen the play grow and change, and now gets to be a part of the premiere here at 7 Stages. Read below to see why the possibilities in puppetry are limitless, and how the multimedia in the show is a welcomed challenge to performers:

Q. Inside I uses multimedia techniques to help the audience understand autism. What was your perception of autism before working on this production? And how has this production changed that perception?

A. My perception of autism before being involved with Inside I was of a controversial mental health issue affecting a growing number of families throughout the country with very little insight into its cause. After being involved in the workshop process for the show I have learned that there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding autism, but that there is a lot of research being done every year, and it seems we get closer and closer to an understanding of this disorder. I also became aware of the different schools of thought as to how people who are on the spectrum and their caregivers feel about autism, which seem to center around the idea of finding a cure and inclusion into the neurotypical society, versus the idea of changing this society’s perception of autism and people on the spectrum as a regular part of the human population. To this day it’s still a hotly debated topic of discussion, and it’s an idea that I still grapple with.

Q. Describe your character and their role in the play?

A. I play Ben’s father who, as a new parent of a child who may be on the spectrum, is afraid that he won’t be able to deal with, not only financially but also emotionally, the challenges rearing that child might bring. Unfortunately, most statistics calculate that the divorce rate among parents of children who are on the spectrum is almost twice the divorce rate of the general population, and that provides yet another enormous challenge for children on the spectrum. I also get to “second” the Ben puppet, which means manipulating his arms or legs, and as a puppeteer in this role, it’s very interesting to convey physically what it feels like to be on the spectrum and experience what Ben goes through in these situations.

Q. Inside I is told through video, puppetry, and other visual techniques, what is the biggest challenge as an actor in telling a story this way on stage?

A. For any theatre production involving the use of new technology or staging methods it’s always trial and error as you go, but it is also a great opportunity to expand an artist’s perception of his/her art form and to collaborate with other artists in the creation of new ways of producing innovative theatre. I have been a puppeteer for many years now, and it still astounds me how with every production I am involved with I always learn new skills or new ways of using puppetry to tell a story. It always feels like the possibilities with puppetry are limitless! We are also in an era where theatre is becoming so overtly integrated with technology in order to challenge the audience’s perception of what theatre is and can be in the future, and I am so glad to be part of this experiment.

Q. What do you hope audiences will walk away talking about after seeing Inside I?

A. My hope is that the audiences experience in the hour that they spend with us, at least a bit of the discovery, wonderment, and inquisitiveness I experienced myself during the process of developing this play. For people on the spectrum and their friends, family members, caregivers, advocates, etc. I hope that they are able to feel a sense of pride or acknowledgement in seeing a story from their unique community portrayed on a major stage and that they are able to connect with Ben and identify with his struggles. As with any theatrical production, the main aim is always to start a discussion and to inspire people to take action and enrich their lives and the lives of others.

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Meet Tera Buerkle http://www.7stages.org/meet-tera-buerkle/ Fri, 15 Apr 2016 17:28:43 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6657 You may know Tera Buerkle from her improv work around town, but in Inside I, she becomes a puppeteer. Find out below why Tera wanted to be a part of Inside I, who her character is, and why she thinks this play might change your life for the better: Q. Inside I uses multimedia techniques […]

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IMG_6892You may know Tera Buerkle from her improv work around town, but in Inside I, she becomes a puppeteer. Find out below why Tera wanted to be a part of Inside I, who her character is, and why she thinks this play might change your life for the better:

Q. Inside I uses multimedia techniques to help the audience understand autism. What was your perception of autism before working on this production? And how has this production changed that perception?

A. I had a very limited understanding of autism before working on this show and am grateful for what I’ve learned.  The evolution of doctors’ understanding and care for people with autism is fascinating and very easy for me to relate to.  In the past, doctors and parents seemed to try to force a person with autism to communicate as neurotypical people do.  As someone who dances to her own beat, I very much like the current thinking of accepting people as they are and trying to meet them somewhere in the middle.  I learned that meeting one person with autism means that you have only experienced their autism – another person’s will be totally different. Watching interviews with Temple Grandin was fascinating.  As a person with autism she explores her thinking and inner life like an artist.  We would all be better off if we understood ourselves as well as she understands herself. 

Q. Describe your character and their role in the play?
A. My character is Sophia and she grows up with Ben from age 6 to 17 in the play.  She is a girl without much guidance that seeks to take care of her wants and needs while being rather unaware of how her actions may affect people. Her interactions with the lead character, Ben, are a sampling of what people with autism, and regular people, may experience from their peers while growing up.  
Q. Inside I is told through video, puppetry, and other visual techniques, what is the biggest challenge as an actor in telling a story this way on stage?
A. Michael and Erwin have really set up a story which is shown and not told (my favorite kind of art.)  While there is a good deal of technology and blocking in the piece we have to make our performances intimate and relatable to pull audience members in and hopefully stir up empathy. While this is a story primarily about an autistic person I think many people will easily relate to the characters.  The themes are similar for many families. 
Q. What do you hope audiences will walk away talking about after seeing Inside I?
A. I hope audiences will get a taste of an experience outside of their own.  I hope they will relate to the characters and that the play will expand their thinking about people that have different perspectives than their own.  I hope it will change everyone’s lives for the better!!! 

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INSIDE I trailer is here! http://www.7stages.org/inside-i-trailer-is-here/ Tue, 12 Apr 2016 20:45:03 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6628 The post INSIDE I trailer is here! appeared first on 7 Stages Theatre.

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Each moment gets us more and more excited to share this production that Michael Haverty and Erwin Maas have put years into researching, writing, and workshopping around the country. Inside I is all about perception, opening up your own and also experiencing a different view throughout the show. Michael and Erwin strived to make this production about understanding and empathy to those who are on a different part of the spectrum. As they have both said many times, “we are all on the spectrum.” Watch the trailer to get the first look at how technology will be utilized to change your point of view and experience autism. 

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Meet Matt Baum http://www.7stages.org/6606-2/ Mon, 11 Apr 2016 10:00:07 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6606 The post Meet Matt Baum appeared first on 7 Stages Theatre.

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Matt Baum is charged with the important, and often challenging, task of playing our main character in Inside I, Ben. Baum uses puppets to portray Ben from birth to his teenage years. Below, he describes the challenges of this type of technology and physical spectacle heavy work on stage, as well as how Inside I created a deeper understanding of the autistic experience.

Q. Inside I uses multimedia techniques to help the audience understand autism. What was your perception of autism before working on this production? And how has this production changed that perception?

A. I didn’t know much about autism before working on this production. To prepare for the show, I read some great books on the topic and spent some time getting to know some of the people who inspired Ben’s character. Researchers have uncovered a lot about autism, but there’s still a lot we don’t understand. The one thing we do know is that every person with autism is different.

Q. Describe your character and their role in the play?

A. Ben has autism. The show follows Ben as he grows from 18 months to 17 years old. Through the live-feed camera, Ben shares his life and world with the audience.

Q. Inside I is told through video, puppetry, and other visual techniques, what is the biggest challenge as an actor in telling a story this way on stage?

A. As an actor, I rely on my voice and body to express my character’s thoughts and feelings. It’s a challenge for me to communicate through puppets, the live-feed, and the other technical elements of the show. I don’t always feel as comfortable using these modes of expression as I do my own voice and body. Ben, on the other hand, struggles to communicate through words and body language, but finds freedom behind the camera.

Q. What do you hope audiences will walk away talking about after seeing Inside I?

A. I hope audiences will see similarities between Ben and themselves. I hope getting a window into Ben’s experience will inspire greater compassion and  appreciation for people with autism and the people who love and care for them.

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Read along with the INSIDE I cast http://www.7stages.org/read-along-with-the-inside-i-cast/ Fri, 08 Apr 2016 05:00:51 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6594 The post Read along with the INSIDE I cast appeared first on 7 Stages Theatre.

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IMG_1002We are almost two weeks into the rehearsal process of Inside I (written and directed by Michael Haverty and Erwin Maas), and before rehearsals started the cast and designers began passing around a collection of books to help them all better understand the autistic experience, the research that went into the show, and the science behind understanding an autism diagnosis and the treatments. Below are the books they are reading in case you would like to read along:

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F451 Big Read Book Club Poem http://www.7stages.org/f451-big-read-book-club-poem/ Tue, 05 Apr 2016 20:49:49 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6565 The post F451 Big Read Book Club Poem appeared first on 7 Stages Theatre.

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At our last NEA Big Read Book Club meeting in March at the Decatur Library, we wrote a poem as a collective based on themes and our own responses to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. So basically, we created our artistic response! See it’s not that scary! Our task was to describe a chosen theme from Bradbury’s novel using the five senses and we each had about 5-minutes to write down one line for each sense based on our own chosen theme.

These are the combined responses, and we may be biased, but it turned out to be quite a beautiful poem:

Humanity

tastes like the sweet nectar of honeysuckle on a warm summer day,
like habanero, jalapenos, chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, and tabasco
overloading your buds, you think you can handle it until it burns
a spoon full of warm smooth custard so silky and sweet
on the tongue you want to spend time savoring
before you share it with your lover,
like the crunch of bland non good labeled “yummy”,
like the unfamiliar and who is that wearing my clothes,
like the first slurpy bite of a ripe peach and a library fine

sounds like children’s laughter interrupting a political debate,
like heavy butterfly wings fluttering melody and harmony
like echoed dreams remembered then forgotten,
like hearing a newborn that you instantly fall in love with,
teeth grinding like apprehension and this is none of your business,
the sniffing of mechanical death the wispy branches of a willow tree

feels like warm hands on cold skin drawing you close to comfort
like a friend when in control and an enemy when mad, like the warmth of fire smells,
like a portal to another dimension, an internal pull in your gut by a freshly fed hook,
like judgement, like a too tight bra or misplaced love,
like expectations not exchanged,

looks like the reflection of a dandelion, like light yellow, orange and red,
like the perfect kind of wallpaper,
like happiness the bright in her eyes a map with no street names,
like things you want to change but can’t
because flaws are larger than they appear,
like multiple televised images that mean nothing,
like watching kindness between strangers,
a man buying food for the homeless

smells like the sweet fragrance of Clarisse’s hair as she turns to leave,
like metaled understanding or flesh after the fact,
like moving in slow motion while looking over your shoulder
or waking up in a cold sweat after the fear,
like a warm home after a long day,
like the blues on a warm summer night while the moon is full
and the air is damp with humanity

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HAPPY WORLD THEATRE DAY! http://www.7stages.org/happy-world-theatre-day/ Sat, 26 Mar 2016 01:00:53 +0000 http://www.7stages.org/?p=6505 The post HAPPY WORLD THEATRE DAY! appeared first on 7 Stages Theatre.

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In honor of World Theatre Day we wanted to share this year’s Message of World Theatre Day with you from Russian director, Anatoli Vassiliev. His message spoke to us as a staff, what we believe theatre is and can be, and to our mission as an organization. Let it inspire you to sit in a row of seats and watch living art in front of you. We promise, that art you see, will also ignite something within.

World Theater Day Message 2016

Do we need theatre?

That is the question thousands of professionals disappointed in theatre and millions of people who are tired of it are asking themselves.

What do we need it for?

In those years when the scene is so insignificant in comparison with the city squares and state lands, where the authentic tragedies of real life are being played.

What is it to us?

Gold-plated galleries and balconies in the theatre halls, velvet armchairs, dirty stage wings, well-polished actors’ voices, – or vice versa, something that might look apparently different: black boxes, stained with mud and blood, with a bunch of rabid naked bodies inside.

What is it able to tell us?

Everything!

Theatre can tell us everything.

How the gods dwell in heaven, and how prisoners languish in forgotten caves underground, and how passion can elevate us, and how love can ruin, and how no-one needs a good person in this world, and how deception reigns, and how people live in apartments, while children wither in refugee camps, and how they all have to return back to the desert, and how day after day we are forced to part with our beloveds, – theatre can tell everything.

The theatre has always been and it will remain forever.

And now, in those last fifty or seventy years, it is particularly necessary. Because if you take a look at all the public arts, you can immediately see that only theatre is giving us – a word from mouth to mouth, a glance from eye to eye, a gesture from hand to hand, and from body to body. It does not need any intermediary to work among human beings – it constitutes the most transparent side of light, it does not belong to either south, or north, or east, or west – oh no, it is the essence of light itself, shining from all four corners of the world, immediately recognizable by any person, whether hostile or friendly towards it.

And we need theatre that always remains different, we need theatre of many different kinds.

Still, I think that among all possible forms and shapes of theatre its archaic forms will now prove to be mostly in demand. Theatre of ritual forms should not be artificially opposed to that of “civilized” nations. Secular culture is now being more and more emasculated, so-called “cultural information” gradually replaces and pushes out simple entities, as well as our hope of eventually meeting them one day.

But I can see it clearly now: theatre is opening its doors widely. Free admission for all and everybody.

To hell with gadgets and computers – just go to the theatre, occupy whole rows in the stalls and in the galleries, listen to the word and look at living images! – it is theatre in front of you, do not neglect it and do not miss a chance to participate in it – perhaps the most precious chance we share in our vain and hurried lives.

We need every kind of theatre.

There is only one theatre which is surely not needed by anyone – I mean a theatre of political games, a theatre of a political “mousetraps”, a theatre of politicians, a futile theatre of politics. What we certainly do not need is a theatre of daily terror – whether individual or collective, what we do not need is the theatre of corpses and blood on the streets and squares, in the capitals or in the provinces, a phony theatre of clashes between religions or ethnic groups…

Translation by Natalia Isaeva

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