POST: 'Amy and the Orphans' - she continues to break barriers
What it's about
Two adult siblings reunite with their younger sister Amy, after the sudden death of their father brings them together. They embark on a road trip that reveals family truths that have been kept in the dark until now.
And so begins Amy's family road trip.
Jamie Brewer stars as Amy. I absolutely adore her, ever since watching her on American Horror Story: Murder House. Absolutely jaw dropping and such an inspiring person. I fangirled X 1000000 when she appeared on stage. She’s super awesome. Here’s a little factoid about Jamie Brewer: she was the first woman with Down Syndrome to walk down the runway at New York Fashion Week back in 2015!
And she continues to break barriers with Amy and the Orphans.
A topic that has been in circulation recently has been “whitewashing," but beyond that, representation in general. The fact that this production cast as actress with DS to portray someone with DS is so critical and truly important.
As you can see, I have become uber passionate about this show. Even though I have no personal connection to it, I find myself being transcended. Which is what I think is so awesome about theater: it connects human beings and brings them together in spite of differences.
Inside the playbill for Amy and the Orphans, there is a note from the playwright, Lindsey Ferrentino. And here’s something I thought was really cool so I’m sharing with you:
Amy and the Orphans is AKA Andy and the Orphans
Explanation: though this production stars Jamie Brewer, Jamie’s understudy is Eddie Barbanell. When Eddie performs, the play title changes to Andy and the Orphans, to accommodate the gender. This is so important because it allows for any actor with DS, regardless of gender, to take part in this important piece of theatre that furthers our understanding of the human experience by making it more inclusive.
Amy is a woman with Down Syndrome, who has lived in community homes all her life, ever since her parents left her in the “care” of the staff at the infamous Willowbrook (a real-life place). It was there, where she faced horrors from a very young age. Having to eat dog food for a whole year, which attributes to her wearing dentures now in adulthood. Since then, she has moved on to a much nicer and HUMANE community, under the care of the hilarious Kathy.
Amy’s sibling don't know how to break the news to Amy that their dad has died. Jacob comes up with a bizzare way of explaining the concept of death to Amy by using a really bad straw metaphor which TBH didnt make any sense. Finally, Amy cuts him off and she's like:
Though the siblings are good-natured, they constantly infantilize Amy unconsciously simply because of her disability. Which regardless of whether they are conscience, is patronizing. Amy is their younger sister, but she’s a 30 year old woman. She has a job. She has a boyfriend. And she’s a wonderful person who fills the room with energy.
This play made me laugh and cry. To her siblings surprise, Amy is more #woke than they expected her to be. In fact, she’s more #woke than anyone in the play. Though her siblings try to conceal certain things from her, such as the torture chamber that was Willowbrook, Amy knows. Amy remembers. How can she not?! It was a traumitizing time to endure, and honestly, I just wanted to run up on stage and hug Amy.
In the end, Amy has a beautiful monologue, which is solely comprised of famous movie lines, like "we're gonna need a bigger boat" (Jaws) or "you talkin' to me" (Taxi Driver). It's a moment that elicites a lot of laughs, and I was really #weak. However, even though at glance the lines seemed to have no connection to one another, I tried to dissect them, and actauilly pay attention to the words she was speaking. And when I did that, it hit the depths of my soul #DEEP. Amy kept on repeating this line: “I could’ve been somebody.” She could've been someone, had she not endured those horrible attrocities in Willowbrook when she was only 8. She never was able to realize her full potential, and that to me, broke my heart.