RHUL Drama Soc Unscene Festival Review (particularly On the Spectrum)

On Monday evening I rather spontaneously went down to the Drama Society Unscene Festival. I say rather, it was actually VERY spontaneous because I literally agreed to go about 5 minutes before I left – my flatmate was going to support his girlfriend (who I actually vaguely know) and didn’t particularly want to go alone, ergo I agreed to accompany him, on the condition that I finished my dinner (which I did).

On walking into Jane Holloway Hall it was certainly remarkably different to how it looks every other time I’m in there for a lecture – fewer chairs and no tables for a start! We saw Katie (the girlfriend) as we came in and she automatically assumed bribery had been involved; however she was in fact incorrect and I was genuinely interested in seeing what the drama society had to offer, albeit not enough to have considered going alone or roping anyone else in.

Anyway, after an awkward seat situation where we were accidentally allowed to sit in someone else’s seat, we settled down to enjoy the show. I want to focus on the first piece, On the Spectrum, because of the poignant subject matter (and also I was most interested in it because it was the only section to include someone I actually know)

Before it began we listened to an audio clip of what an autistic child hears:

Enlightening as it was, I did find it to be generalising autism somewhat, and in a way restricting such an experience to children, but I digress. The video served its purpose as a simple introduction to a particular aspect of an autistic person’s life.

The staging of the piece was very simple – two actors (I believe it is improper to refer to people as actresses these days, although they were both female), two chairs and meagre props. They spoke together and then separately, representing how we all have the same situations but ‘normal’ people respond differently to those on the autistic spectrum (although as it is a spectrum technically we are all on it).

We saw various situations which emphasised different aspects of student life that could cause a problem for the autistic:

  • Moving in – social skills
  • Students Union – hypersensitivity, reaction to loud noises, crowds
  • Lecture – slower comprehension, picking out what’s important
  • Seminar – communication

There may have been other situations but my memory fails me!

Anyway, after all this, Katie delivered a fantastic monologue (she was playing the autistic character) on the challenge of university when you’re on the spectrum, and I feel like she portrayed the character very well (not being biased because I know her or anything! Hi Katie if you’re reading, which you probably are because I will tag you in this on Facebook…) I don’t actually know anyone at university with autism, but I could see traits of those I know who are younger reflected in the acting and writing.

I especially enjoyed the end of the piece, where the two characters interact and there is understanding between them, rather than struggles and misinterpretations as were shown earlier!

Anyway, I feel I should leave it there as I have written far too much! The rest of the show was good, particularly the second half where there was a longer drama (although I did feel it could have been slightly shorter by about ten minutes) which had a great ambiguous ending. I have certainly written too much, so well done to all involved and I look forward to seeing more of your work!

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One thought on “RHUL Drama Soc Unscene Festival Review (particularly On the Spectrum)

  1. Reblogged this on Beth Carr and commented:

    Two years ago I saw my first (and currently last) Unscene Festival at Royal Holloway, the Drama Society’s showcase of new short plays and poems. My spontaneous trip was something I really enjoyed and it inspired me to try and write my own short play for inclusion in the festival. This isn’t something I ever expected to actually happen, but tomorrow my own short drama will be performed on the Jane Holloway stage! It is set in a very unique location on campus and depicts a situation that many people can probably relate to (at least according to my friend Jess when she responded to my astonished/excited messages about its inclusion).

    Come down to Jane Holloway Hall at 7pm to see ‘The Conversation’ and a host of other original theatre pieces plus an Improv performance by the Holloway Players! The Facebook event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/664398803728447/.

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