POST: FringeNYC's 'Behind the Wall - An Autism Performance Piece.' empathize and sympathize
Who doesn’t love a dramatic lifestyle? I’m sorry, but I do! I guess I mean not literally but more like a dramatic fantasy lifestyle. Musical theatre is that dramatic fantasy lifestyle for me. It is my escape from the real world and helps me in a zone where I can feel as if I don’t have to deal with “the real world.” So, I knew that Behind the Wall – An Autism Performance Piece would be the perfect pick for me.
I arrived early to my destination (The Steve and Marie Sgouros Theatre) at around 12:50 PM. I was so early that I could not be admitted because admission began at 1:30 PM. Washington Square Park was within walking distance I sat there until it was time. I went back to the theatre and this wonderful lady (Susan) and her husband (Mike) started to engage in conversation with me, we were talking about how hot it was outside. Susan kept saying “This is New York City come on!” I could not agree with her more.
So the show starts off with Joyce (sister of autistic brother) and Andy (autistic brother) dancing. They were both copying each other’s dance moves to try their best to dance in sync. Joyce usually gets frustrated because at some points Andy just zones out and doesn’t follow her and they end up in an altercation.
Joyce and Andy were dancing with a book and Andy grabbed the book aggressively and didn’t want to let go. In that moment Joyce was disappointed, but dealt with her frustration by singing and playing her guitar. Whenever I am feeling down and not at my best, I just get on my piano and write or sing a song. When Joyce was singing I shed a tear (I was so glad that it was so dark in the theatre because I did not have to lie about allergies or anything). The song she sang pertained to questions as to why her brother has autism, and why this is the life that was given to him. That made me shed an extra tear because I can only imagine how difficult it is to see someone you love be somewhat helpless.
I empathized with Joyce because she deals with her problems through music and I sympathized with Andy because I do not know how he feels but I can only imagine. Throughout the performance there were many amazing moments but there were also moments where I was simply unsure and had a little bit of unanswered questions. In almost every scene Joyce and Andy would do an activity to bond. This made me question - was it only through activities they could form a bond? What other things could they do to communicate? I also wondered why dancing was so essential to their relationship. I know it helps them communicate with each other but did they both go to dancing school when they were younger? Were any of their parents dancers? How did it become so important to dealing with Andy’s autism? I wanted a little monologue on their lives before the time frame in which the performance piece took place.
I must say, my commute back was so fun! I was alone but I still had a blast. As I was walking to the train I saw a group of kids on a mini tour and the tour instructor was talking about how Lady Gaga used to go to school around the area. I could not help but to listen, because I am a Gaga fan. I already knew that she went to NYU Tisch but to hear it in a mini tour was super cool. On my way back to the train I ran into a puppy adoption car and was so tempted to adopt a puppy but was hesitant because I was unsure of how my current dog would react to a new one. I really feel like I got the entire New York City experience in a matter of hours because of attending this amazing show.
- Andrew H.