On Friday 8LL presented an excerpt from the novel, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time, to children on the autism spectrum from the Bubbles Centre. We had been working on this from the beginning of the year and had also read the book in our English class. We assigned all the different tasks we had to do to make the day successful, and evenly spread it out across everybody in our class. We had tasks for everything: from the children stepping off the bus to them leaving the campus at 2 pm. We also put a lot of work into making the entire performance autism friendly.
We were excited and nervous for our performance. We knew we had put our hearts into the performance but the longing fear of messing up on stage was suppressed but evident too. We sometimes forgot our lines during rehearsal or forgot our cues to do our part but we always helped each other fix it and encouraged each other. It may sound cliché but for the first time we all were patient with one another and just accepted the mistakes and worked on moving on from it rather than dwelling on it.
We practiced from 8:45 to 11:00 and then wrapped up our last rehearsal before the real deal. We started setting up for them to arrive(the ticket counter, the props and the set) and did what we had to to make this a very good performance. They arrived at 11:20 and a team guided them to the Odeum and then the next team took over to give tickets and so on.
I had never forgot my lines in any of the rehearsals and this was probably because I had spent the entire previous night learning my lines very well. But I think it was the nerves that kicked in because when I was standing on that cube, I was shaking. I couldn't remember any of my lines and was having a mini panic attack on stage. The first sentence I said what completely wrong but nobody realised. But then the first cue for the first team was "I detected in the kitchen" but instead i said the second team's cue which was "I detected in the utility room." Both the teams got messed up and everybody was looking at me. I couldn't recall any of my lines and started openly panicking. Nobody was helping me out because they thought I had it all in control but really I had no idea where I was going. That's when Rohan whispered my lines to me after an awkward 20 seconds of silence. I sighed in relief snd continued through the rest of my monologue without a doubt. Honestly, I am so thankful Rohan whispered that one word because it was a boost up and helped me get back in track. This was one of the really good examples of helping each other.
The rest of the performance was fantastic. Everybody remembered their lines and cues and it was a very smooth performance other than the rough start. They enjoyed the performance and then we moved on to have lunch. They were pretty calm and ate in silence. People distributed some cups and plates around to help with serving. Some of us even sat on the floor so they would have more space to themselves.
We showed our performance to them and now it was their turn to share their activities with us. We made bracelets using different kind of beads. Most of the boys had a very hard time putting the beads into the string as the hole is slim and complained that their fingers were too huge. Some people gave up saying it wasn't meant for them and some finished it with ease. Most of us didn't finish because time didn't permit us but some of us were done with the entire thing. We took a picture and then Nikhita, Anushka and I led them back to the buses. We chatted on the way and waved goodbye. For the last hour or so we took a break where we played soccer or just took some time off from the hectic day. At last, we discussed briefly about our learnings and then departed.
Throughout the entire day we learned so much. We learnt how to improvise on stage and help each other out without making it obvious to the audience. Understanding each other and realising some qualities that you may not have known about your classmates. Realising that autistic children are really not very different from us. Questioning and deeply thinking about why society first labelled autistic children as "weird" or "peculiar". Really mixing with them and learning few new things about their behaviour. I could have calmed down before the performance and not panicked. But I don't think we needed to change anything else. We all thought about this thoroughly and I think it was very well organised!
by Surabhi Prasad