Shining the light on neurodiversity in theatre
Neurodiversity, by definition, is the range of differences in individual brain function, and within the creative world of theatre, these differences can be truly celebrated.
Research by the UK’s National Autistic Society (NAS) shows that the figures around employment of people with autism in the UK are still very low. In its survey of 2,000 autistic adults, NAS found just 16% were in full-time paid employment.
Head2Head Sensory Theatre is trying to change this by introducing theatre to autistic and neurodiverse young people in Surrey offering them opportunities to gain experience and life skills through the fun of theatre.
“It’s no surprise to us that 77% of autistic people want to work! Of course they do.” Said Anni Rhodes Steere. “They want to be included. Many neurodiverse people are highly creative and talented. Our Work Experience Programme has been very successful at placing young neurodiverse students into work through our own shows.”
Why is neurodiversity and theatre a match made in heaven?
Working with neurodiverse performers and creatives not only allows their creativity to flourish, but also pushes the work itself, resulting in more inclusive, innovative and inspiring productions.
Anni continues; “Theatre allows for social learning without identity. Everyone can fall under a given identity or label in society. With theatre that label is stripped away. There are no limits to what someone can be or do.”
“In a theatre environment you are free to express yourself and explore the full range of social behaviours. A valuable learning tool.”
Theatre can also help us “think on our feet” . The art of improvisation is wonderful when working with young people who don’t often stick to a script. The same flexibility and open attitude is applied to our shows and workshops which allow for autistic children who often want to spontaneously interact or run about.
Having a varied theatre programme with lots of improv activities encourages our audiences to interact spontaneously.
Improv practice in theatre is also a useful skill which can be carried into everyday social situations.
How H2H helps
We make theatre possible for everyone.
Thanks to our new base in Oxted we have the space to launch a new educational department, bringing accredited drama courses to young people with a wide range of learning difficulties and physical disabilities. We will also be able to set up a rehearsal studio, wardrobe and props-making area.
To help us fund our safe place for the disabled and special needs community in Surrey please make a donation here.
Find out more about how our sensory theatre for families and schools can help children with Autism.