Statement from Producer

On 5th February 2019, the producer of the play Paul Virides made the following statement on Twitter…

Good morning Twitter! We’ve had a lot of questions about the research and development process for the show and we thought we should clarify a couple things that we haven’t communicated well… (1/13 )

Some of you have asked us if and how we’ve consulted autistic people in the process of creating the show. Why yes, yes we have! We’ve been working with autistic adults and children at every stage of the process, all beginning with @FunkSmuggler’s 10+ years as a carer…(2/13)

Alex started working on the show over five years ago and immediately consulted with a number of autistic friends and family, as well as the parents of some autistic children who he had previously worked with as a carer. He wanted to understand the perspective from both sides. (3/13)

This process of writing and consultation continued over the course of a few years, and Alex got @dominicmshawon board to direct. When @PaulViridesjoined the team in 2017, the process of getting the play performance ready began. (4/13)

The team reached out to every autistic person they knew, and also prepared a workshop of the play to test the puppet idea. Going into that workshop, everyone knew it was possible it might need to be scrapped, but kept an open mind. (5/13)

The team invited a number of autistic people to see what was created at the workshop, and used the images and videos from that time to continue to share the idea with autistic people. (6/13)

All in all we estimate between 40 and 50 autistic people, as well as dozens of parents, have been consulted by the core team. However, we’ve also made the effort to reach out to specialists or activists, who’ve also given us some important feedback. (7/13)

Using the comments from autistic colleagues, friends and family, we altered the puppet’s characterisation. Our puppet designer Siân Kidd is a former carer herself, and has used her experience to inform every aspect of Laurence’s development and portrayal. (8/13)

We’ve also been asked whether we have any autistic theatre makers involved. We do indeed! There are two members of the team with autism, and a long series of people who’ve acted as consultants during rehearsals who are, too. (9/13)

As a result of feedback from autistic people and their families, we’ve also changed some key parts of the script, including the process of Laurence being moved to a residential school and the opening scene where Laurence is introduced. (10/13)

But the truth is, the fingerprints and feedback of autistic people are all over this play, which has been read and reread by so many autistic people, all of whom we are very grateful for. (11/13)

The goal of this play is not to offend or upset anyone, but we know that on first glance using a puppet to represent Laurence feels jarring. We hope that anyone who’s expressed a concern or asked questions about the character comes to see the show – we want to open a conversation(12/13)

Thank you to all those who’ve taken time to ask questions about the play. We’ll answer a few more of them in a day or two! (13/13)