Page 1 of 1 [ 12 posts ] 

ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 61
Gender: Male
Posts: 17,565
Location: Long Island, New York

12 Feb 2019, 4:06 am

Casting a puppet as an autistic child is a grotesque step backwards

Quote:
All in a Row, a new play about autism at the Southwark Playhouse, London, is under fire for reportedly using a puppet to play the part of an autistic child, with the National Autistic Society pulling its support for the production. It doesn’t help that the puppet is grey and mawkish, with earlier versions appearing more suited to a horror movie.

It would be easy to dismiss this row as another example of our online offence culture, but it goes to the heart of the dehumanisation that disabled people face – quite literally by representing us as other than human. It is particularly damaging here because of stereotypes of autism, which characterise neurodiverse individuals as unfeeling and with no autonomy.

A spokesman for the play said it was “untenable” to get autistic performers to play the part, and that there are clearly difficulties with casting children – and getting “informed consent from a nonverbal autistic actor aged 11 to play the role”

Sesame Street recently introduced an autistic character, Julia, played by a brightly coloured puppet, surrounded by fellow puppets. It is a punch to the stomach to watch all the non-disabled parts in All in a Row played by actors, while the one disabled character is an inanimate figure pulled by strings.


_________________
Everybody plays the fool sometime
There's no exception to the rule - The Main Ingredient

Recovering from tongue cancer, somewhat verbal.
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity


ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 61
Gender: Male
Posts: 17,565
Location: Long Island, New York

13 Feb 2019, 12:25 am

'All in a Row' Play’s Decision to Cast an Autistic Character as a Puppet Sparks Outrage in Autism Communit

Quote:
“All in a Row” features protagonist Laurence, an autistic student, the night before he is transferred to a residential school as mandated by social services. The 90-minute play, which was written by a former caregiver for autistic people, Alex Oates, will primarily focus on the perspective of Laurence’s parents.

The autism community further expressed their outrage online using the hashtag #PuppetGate.

Like any couple, Tamora and Martin have big hopes and dreams. But when your child is autistic, nonverbal and occasionally violent, ambitions can quickly become a pipe dream,” the “All in a Row” website reads. “On the night before social services finally intervenes, who is the victim here? Who was the traitor? And who do you blame when you can no longer cope?”

Producers said they sought out autistic perspectives during the play’s creation. In a series of tweets, they said the team consulted 40 to 50 autistic people as well as parents, activists and professionals. They did make some adjustments to the play’s script and Laurence’s characterization based on feedback. Two members of the production team are autistic, according to tweets, and many consultants hired during production were on the spectrum.

The show’s creators and actors defended the puppet casting choice in a promo video. Dominic Shaw, the play’s director, called the use of a puppet “a gift to this production.”

“It made perfect sense to me because Laurence does some shocking things physically. He bites people and he has very challenging behavior,” Shaw said. “We can do that with a puppet because it is slightly removed from it being real.”

“Having a puppet onstage telling a story like that of Laurence is, I think, one of the more honest ways that we could portray the story of Laurence without falling into the traps of stereotypes,” said Hugh Purves, the puppeteer who plays the character. “This play tells a truthful story about parents and a carer and a child with severe autism.”

That’s not how the autism community sees it, however.

“The dominant discourse on autism is monopolized by non-autistic people who cast themselves as victims, and who need a silent autistic person to use as a ventriloquist puppet & cross to bear,” Dr. Elena Âû Chandler wrote on Twitter. “This play literally reduces the autistic person to a prop.”

The Mighty reached out to the creators of “All in a Row,” who declined to comment.


_________________
Everybody plays the fool sometime
There's no exception to the rule - The Main Ingredient

Recovering from tongue cancer, somewhat verbal.
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity


KenG
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Age: 49
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,092
Location: Israel

18 Feb 2019, 12:24 pm

There will be a large autistic protest against this use of a puppet. Hundreds of autistics are expected to gather from around the UK and protest in front of the theatre this evening:
https://www.facebook.com/events/345514732724521/
The protest starts in fifteen minutes time. You are all invited to join in, outside the Southward Playhouse 77-85 Newington Causeway, SE1 2 London. (nearest tube stations: Elephant & Castle and Borough. nearest train station: Elephant & Castle).
I wish I had a magic elephant who could teleport me to the UK to participate in this protest.


_________________
AUTSCAPE -- Autistic-run Conference and Retreat in the UK
http://www.autscape.org/


Magna
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Jun 2018
Gender: Male
Posts: 3,579

18 Feb 2019, 12:32 pm

How terrible. Not only from the perspective of the autistic character being portrayed as a thing, an object where everyone else in the play is human, but also because that puppet looks plain scary and disturbing.


_________________
"There is no love of living without despair of life." - Albert Camus

Max Jerry Horowitz: "P.S. Do not worry about not smiling. My mouth hardly ever smiles. But it does not mean I am not smiling inside my brain."

AQ-43 (32-50 indicates a strong likelihood of Asperger syndrome or autism).
EQ-14 out of 80
Rdos: Your neurodiverse (Aspie) score: 173 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 39 of 200
You are very likely neurodiverse (Aspie)


ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 61
Gender: Male
Posts: 17,565
Location: Long Island, New York

20 Feb 2019, 1:53 am

Guardian positive review

Quote:
lenty of people didn’t want this show to happen. Protesters gathered outside the theatre on opening night and more than 12,000 people with autism have signed a petition, arguing that it is dehumanising to use a puppet to depict an autistic child. What a shame. I, for one, am grateful that playwright Alex Oates and the creative team had the guts and integrity to see this one through.

There has been so much fuss about the puppet but – as with all good puppetry – it soon begins to feel human. Richly so. Designer Siân Kidd’s model is attached to puppeteer Hugh Purves’s waist, so while Laurence’s face is greyish with a neutral expression, his body is mobile. He fills the stage (lined with geometric patterns by designer PJ McEvoy) with his hums, moans, tics and chuckles. We watch him lose himself in Finding Nemo (again), carefully line up his cakes (again), hug and stroke his parents (again) and just occasionally lash out. At one point, Laurence’s mother emerges with a darkly bruised cheek. It’s a sign of the subtle depths of Dominic Shaw’s production that this biting scene brims with love.

As the two struggle to let their son go, Martin reassures his wife: “It’s OK to love somebody, and wonder what it would be like if they were someone else.”


_________________
Everybody plays the fool sometime
There's no exception to the rule - The Main Ingredient

Recovering from tongue cancer, somewhat verbal.
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity


Prometheus18
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 18 Aug 2018
Age: 22
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,257

20 Feb 2019, 6:11 am

Doesn't offend me one bit. All that does offend me is the patronisation of someone else's presuming to be offended on my behalf.


_________________
L'enfer c'est les autres.
- Sartre

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
- Henry David Thoreau

Das Glück gehört denen, die sich selbst genügen. Denn alle äußeren Quellen des Glückes und Genusses sind, ihrer Natur nach, höchst unsicher, misslich, vergänglich und dem Zufall unterworfen.
- Arthur Schopenhauer


Amity
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Mar 2014
Gender: Female
Posts: 6,422
Location: Meandering

20 Feb 2019, 8:11 am

Prometheus18 wrote:
Doesn't offend me one bit. All that does offend me is the patronisation of someone else's presuming to be offended on my behalf.


Oh wow yes.
I wish the outrage culture could be reigned in, it's damaged real causes, and for what... 'individualisms' emotional gratification?
I don't know what else to call it.



Prometheus18
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 18 Aug 2018
Age: 22
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,257

20 Feb 2019, 8:57 am

Amity wrote:
Prometheus18 wrote:
Doesn't offend me one bit. All that does offend me is the patronisation of someone else's presuming to be offended on my behalf.


Oh wow yes.
I wish the outrage culture could be reigned in, it's damaged real causes, and for what... 'individualisms' emotional gratification?
I don't know what else to call it.


Personally, I think it's suspicious that so many wealthy businessmen are funding the offence-taking culture (George Soros is the first to come to mind). The only conclusion to draw from this is that big business has a vested interest in keeping people offended, though I don't know why. One reason that has occurred to me is that, while the left is fixated on ineffectual nonsense like taking offence at people's choices of words, it isn't condemning the corruption and amorality of big business and its leaders, which was the traditional role of the radical left in Europe and America.


_________________
L'enfer c'est les autres.
- Sartre

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
- Henry David Thoreau

Das Glück gehört denen, die sich selbst genügen. Denn alle äußeren Quellen des Glückes und Genusses sind, ihrer Natur nach, höchst unsicher, misslich, vergänglich und dem Zufall unterworfen.
- Arthur Schopenhauer


ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 61
Gender: Male
Posts: 17,565
Location: Long Island, New York

20 Feb 2019, 9:30 am

I can only bring partial judgement to a play I am never going see. Using a puppet is not objectionable, Sesame Street’s Julia is fine. It is that only the autistic character is a puppet and the puppet is ugly that raises red flags.

As I have said in the PPR threads the problem is that when everything is seemingly offensive nothing is. What I mean by that, that it creates a “boy cried wolf” effect wherby when somebody has a legitimate complaint about something being offensive people just say “oh no, not again” and tune it out or assume the person complaining is a snowflake who needs to get a life.


_________________
Everybody plays the fool sometime
There's no exception to the rule - The Main Ingredient

Recovering from tongue cancer, somewhat verbal.
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity


Amity
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Mar 2014
Gender: Female
Posts: 6,422
Location: Meandering

20 Feb 2019, 2:10 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
I can only bring partial judgement to a play I am never going see. Using a puppet is not objectionable, Sesame Street’s Julia is fine. It is that only the autistic character is a puppet and the puppet is ugly that raises red flags.

As I have said in the PPR threads the problem is that when everything is seemingly offensive nothing is. What I mean by that, that it creates a “boy cried wolf” effect wherby when somebody has a legitimate complaint about something being offensive people just say “oh no, not again” and tune it out or assume the person complaining is a snowflake who needs to get a life.


It is tiring to sift through and separate the legitimate complaints from the 'outrage to satisfy emotional' wants.
If there had been an actor playing the non verbal autistic person, I'm sure there would be outrage over some other perceived offence.

I've not seen the play, nor am I likely to either, I reserve judging the production until I had the context of the overall message.
------
Also ...so what if the character is ugly ...should ASD folk be portrayed as beautiful? Would that be less offensive?



ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 61
Gender: Male
Posts: 17,565
Location: Long Island, New York

20 Feb 2019, 4:40 pm

Amity wrote:
------
Also ...so what if the character is ugly ...should ASD folk be portrayed as beautiful? Would that be less offensive?

Like you said it depends on the overall context of the play. If he is bullied for being ugly he should be ugly. But is the two factors together that makes me wonder.


_________________
Everybody plays the fool sometime
There's no exception to the rule - The Main Ingredient

Recovering from tongue cancer, somewhat verbal.
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity


Hollywood_Guy
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 11 Nov 2017
Age: 27
Gender: Male
Posts: 562
Location: US

20 Feb 2019, 6:16 pm

Prometheus18 wrote:
Doesn't offend me one bit. All that does offend me is the patronisation of someone else's presuming to be offended on my behalf.


I hear you. It makes you feel a little patronized ah?