Show depicts the dedication of a family despite complicated realities of having a child with autism
The theater program is about to debut their first fall production: “Falling”, an emotional story about autism and unconditional love. It will be sure to tug on the heartstrings of audience members as it depicts the complicated relationship between a mother and her autistic child.
Tyler Miller, theater faculty, opens up about the impact students are making in this program, through this production. “My students here have been working extremely hard in ways they are not traditionally asked to do. It’s a lot more creative, and I have them thinking in a new and different way. I want them to be in the moment and theater is all about being in the present,” Miller said.
The hard work at this play can be attributed to both the dedication of the students and the stage director Shannon Brewington, who has given the students a space to both perform and grow as individuals.
Regarding the upcoming play, she states how she appreciated the way the author portrayed a family dealing with a son suffering from severe to low functioning autism, giving a reason to care for people who are difficult to love.
According to Brewington, “a lot of people can sympathize, but it’s really hard to empathize with families who deal with this struggle, so hopefully we can bring that perspective.” The whole family struggles together, and this play reveals the universal truths of challenged parents in such circumstances.
This is the first time that an FPU play has featured a disabled character. As this is their first play concerning autism, Shannon has hopes of building a bridge into the community to bring forth families who have similar struggles.
The theater program has reached out to the Central California Autism Center by giving them flyers, in the hopes of bringing in an audience who can relate to the unwavering compassion it takes for a parent to love unconditionally.
Kathryn Fleener plays the role of Tami, the mother, and she states that the biggest obstacle in playing this role has been trying to understand what it means to be a mother who is forced to let go of the hopes and dreams she has for her child. This specific character challenges Kathryn as an actor because she hasn’t experienced what it means to have a child of her own, and then how to deal with such a child diagnosed with autism.
Kathryn describes her understanding of this role, saying: “I’ve tried to use my own experiences with some of my extended family members on the spectrum as inspiration for understanding what it means to deal with something like autism every minute, of every day, for the rest of your life.”
This play will leave you walking away with a heart full of compassion, and a different perspective about what goes on in the daily lives of families with a child who suffers from autism.
Shannon Brewington, Tyler Miller and Kathryn Fleener highly encourage students to audition for the next spring play! Tyler Miller would like for students to know that “the upcoming spring show is going to be Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’, and we want everyone to come audition for that. Even if you are not in the theater program or a theater major, we encourage you to come audition”. College is an amazing time to break out of your shell and try something new.