Center for Ethics and Leadership

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An Excellent New Docu-Play on Autism

Last week, I attended a wonderful play at The Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia entitled, Life on the Spectrum: A Love Story. The spectrum is the autism spectrum, and the playwright, Meghan McCullough-Kirk, is the older sister of Tim McCullough, an adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Life on the Spectrum began as McCullough-Kirk's senior thesis for her B.A. in playwriting at the Eugene Lang College of The New School. It consists of dramatized interviews of parents of children with ASD, factual information dispelling myths about autism, and McCullough-Kirk's own reminiscences about growing up with a little brother who was very different from all the other kids. This is a very well crafted play that is always interesting and never tedious. Its several vignettes fall into place neatly and build to a dramatic crescendo that appeals both to the emotions and to one's political intellect.

The two shows in June were to benefit AACCEPT (Autism Awareness & Creating Community Environmental Programs Together). AACCEPT's chair is Tim and Meghan's mother, Linda McCullough. It is a fledgling organization designed to address a pressing need, the lack of services for adults with autism. The situation is more severe in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, now that both Governors Rendell and Corzine have warned that budget pressures threaten even current autism services.

McCullough-Kirk co-directs of SITA (Social Issues Through Art) with Rebekah Griffin. Here follows a quote from their remarks in the show's Playbill: " . . . our fundamental belief that art is a powerful tool that can be used to stoke the fire of change. . . . It can make people think. It can make people talk. It can bring an entire room full of strangers together . . ." Our theater director here at Alvernia thinks in a similar way about drama, as do I. Congratulations, Meghan, on a job well done.


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