My time with autism.

I have spoken in recent post about my time with the nuero- inclusive theater company Epic players and my work with them. As an artist, teacher, it is has been some of the most fascinating and fulfilling moments of my career and it really affirms the power of creativity.
When I first joined the company I experienced a great deal of reinforced limitations on the actors because of their being differently abled. Mostly, from parents. Their expectations to be capable were hugely discouraged at times but to the parents credit, they persisted in returning.
I have been privately coaching one student in particular with vocal ear training and acting and the growth has been exponential. I’ve mentioned before that because of their being differently abled, they very often cannot match pitch. But after only a few months of coaching, my student is matching pitch and my method has only been to use the voice.
We recently started coaching on monologues and there is a natural acting talent inside this student. But how do you coach a person on the spectrum who has difficulty creating imaginary images? Physicalize it. In our last session I created physical check points, if you will to help
the actor start visualizing the space. I believe that a strong aspect of acting is reacting to the situation or environment around you and in order to do that it has to first be created.
So, I literally played different characters for the actor to react to as well used props and furniture to set the scene.
The mother was very pleased with the progress of the scene but shared a concern that the student may seem too over directed for the audition to which I replied, the next step is to teach the student how to take direction.
I believe that it is important to not limit the imagination of the student. As my acting coach Anthony Abeson, always says, “there is no fruit without a tree.” The images and situation have to be fleshed out so the words come from a real place. If it’s too big, it can always be pulled back. But you can’t act from a vacuum.