By Tom Middleditch
I was on the bus, how did you get here before me?
No time to explain, I want to talk about how the writing of Alexithymia came about!
That play you were telling me about the other week?
Yeah, I was a little confused. You said it was three plays?
No, that is what you said! I said it was a play written in three parts! Each part exploring a theme inspired by pondering on Alexithymia.
That sounds interesting, can you talk about each of the pieces?
Well, the one I started writing first was Nirvana Syndrome! This was a play that existed in a much more truncated form a year or so ago, and had been a part of the inaugural season of “Small and Loud” scratch night! It got a very interesting and immediate reception, and that feedback has gone into how it has ended up in this work today.
What’s it about?
Well, basically, the piece asks you, if a friend of yours found Nirvana by accident,would they be free, or mentally ill?
Sounds heavy, let’s move on! What about Social_Function.exe
Social function came about as a response to a stereotype of the autistic genius.
That’s a stereotype?
Completely! And a hugely damaging one. Only about 1% of ASD folks possess anything like Savant powers, and the assumption of them as being the upside of ASD implies we are only good when we are seismically useful, rather than, you know, inherently as human.
So what did you do?
I asked, what if the topic of autistic genius became how people socially operated? And then pushed it further to ask, is this not what is expected already, for us to pass as Neurotypical?
Sounds pretty full on, what about the middle piece?
The Curious Case of You? That piece came about as a discussion between myself and Jayde. How does one navigate the concepts of emotions as things separate from humans? And make that not just philosophical abstraction. And also have jokes
What was your solution?
A GAME SHOW! Testing people’s emotional intelligence like other trivia shows test general factive knowledge! When you treat emotional responses as correct and incorrect, you get some pretty interesting dramatic material to play with
Ok, but why these three, why not just one play and why in the order you have them?
Alexithymia is a fracturing experience. You have to work in order to make connections. Without that work, your mind becomes occupied by other topics that are massively fulfilling, but can make engaging with life emotionally and socially somewhat fraught. My job will be complete if these three parts, done in this order, present compelling narratives in their own right, and one overarching experience that people want to try to find their own meaning within
That sounds big, I’d talk more, but I’m catching a train now.
No Problem! Talk again soon