Country Arts SA and Tutti Arts present a Company AT production
Written by Emily Steel
A unique, full-hearted and funny look at how autistic people see the world.
“Nameless” is a nine-year-old girl who loves nothing more than her family, star-gazing and hot chips. Nameless is hyper-intelligent but she sometimes does strange things and the bullies call her “dopey” and “weird”. She feels isolated, sad and confused, until a medical diagnosis reveals the truth – Nameless is autistic.
Nameless takes comfort in the stories of her scientific heroes Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton and sets out on a journey of the imagination to find strength in her differences and confidence in herself.
Drawing on the personal experiences of the ensemble members, Impersonal Space offers a warm and funny insight into an experience shared by thousands of young people.
Company AT is an all-autistic theatre ensemble based in Adelaide at Tutti Arts.
All performances are designated as “relaxed” performances suitable for autistic audiences.
Director: Julian Jaensch
Writer: Emily Steel
Lighting Designer: Nic Mollison
Set & Costume Designer: Meg Wilson
Sound Designer: Sascha Budimski
Nameless: Kate Watts
Mum: Monday McGill
Dillan & Mum on the inside: Georgia Duncan
Isaac Newton & Dad on the inside: Jacob Thomas
Albert Einstein: Mikhael Crossfield
Producer / Arts Manager: Jane Gronow
Production Manager: Nick Mollison
Photograph credit: Sam Oster
The Company AT ensemble played a huge part in the development of Impersonal Space. Working with workshop creators Edwin Kemp Attrill and Yasmin Gurreboo, they were able to express through discussion and exercises how they would like to see an Autistic person portrayed in this show. This led to the development of scenes which provided Writer Emily Steel with great material to inform the script. In 2017, Impersonal Space premiered at the Queen’s Theatre to great acclaim from critics and audiences alike.
In 2019, with support from Country Arts SA, Company AT used a week-long residency in Port Pirie to workshop Impersonal Space into a tour-ready version with a smaller cast. We premiered this version at the DreamBIG Children’s Festival in 2019 and we hope to take this highly enlightening production around the country!
Impersonal Space looks to break through the barriers of the external understanding of the symptoms of Autism and bring the audience into the inner being of an Autistic person; to show the multi-layered process of a mind that others may find confusing but which can arrive at truly unique perspectives that may change the world for the better. We want the audience to see who Autistic people are as people!
We hope it is a penetrating piece of theatre that revolutionises your beliefs about the all-encompassing world of being Autistic. Great thanks to everybody who has supported the development of this project, and my very special thanks to the whole amazing Tutti team.
When I started work with Company AT, I thought I was investigating a very different sort of mind to my own. The idea for Impersonal Space, about a little girl with Einstein and Newton as her imaginary friends, came from Julian Jaensch. The methods we found for representing an Autistic mind, showing a largely neurotypical audience how the world can look through Autistic eyes, came from workshops with the company. But, to my surprise, I ended up putting quite a lot of myself in this play.
My niece is Autistic. When she was first diagnosed, my response to my sister was, “No, but… she’s just like me.” The more I heard from the members of Company AT about what childhood had been like for them, the more it reminded me of my own. That little girl who doesn’t want to work with the other children, who reads and remembers everything, who only wants to eat chips – she’s a lot like me. I’m not sure, now, if the common ground we kept finding is because the neurotypical mind and the Autistic mind have more in common than we tend to think, or if I am further along the Autistic spectrum than I imagined.
Either way, it has been a great privilege to have worked with Company AT. Their generosity, empathy and absolute bluntness have been brilliant. I once went straight from a party to a Company AT rehearsal, and I can’t tell you how relieved I was to leave behind the polite socialising and walk into a room where everyone tells you exactly what they think. Thank you, to Julian and everyone at Company AT, for bringing me into your world.
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