Fringe play puts spotlight on autism
A play at the Edmonton Fringe Festival is putting autism centre stage.
“Anna and the Substitute Teacher” revolves around a grade four girl with autism, who uses her differences to save the day.
The show was co-written by Adam Schwartz, who is an autistic novelist and also a stand-up comedian.
“It would have helped me come to terms quickly with my autism because there was no positive role model on the autism spectrum,” said Schwartz.
Instead of basing the lead role in the play on himself, he chose a female instead, due to a lack of what he called a representation of women with autism.
“Females on the autism spectrum are highly underrepresented, and some people think you can't even be on the autistic spectrum and female,” said Schwartz.
The actress who plays Anna, Asia Weinkauf-Bowman, said the part hits home for her.
“I have a disability as well and growing up I didn't see a representation of people with disabilities so to be able to be part of a story that’s not only good representation but also shares a really important message it's been an honour,” said Weinkauf-Bowman.
The production is riddled with messages regarding autism, however it touches on other themes as well.
“It's not just about autism, it's about this girl and what she does and how she deals with everything that a grade four student deals with,” said actress and playwright Aimee Beaudoin.
“Anna and the Substitute Teacher” is the first play Schwartz has written but he’s playing on doing more, as he turns the spotlight on autism.
“I believe that there's a long way to go but I'm playing a small part in the challenges.”
The play is on at the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre throughout the Fringe festival.
With files from CTV Edmonton’s Graham Neil