'Uncommon Sense' at the Gallagher Bluedorn

People on the autism spectrum are all around us. They are our brothers, fathers, sisters and mothers. They are integrated into our schools, workplaces, churches and families, confronting us with a broader understanding of what is “normal.”

Uncommon Sense

Over the last three years, the creative team has been interviewing families across Iowa and integrating their unique stories into the narrative of the play.

People on the spectrum take center stage in “Uncommon Sense,” a new production that will premiere at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GPBAC) at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, before the start of a national tour.

Commissioned three years ago by the GBPAC, the play was created by New York City’s Tectonic Theater Project and written by Anushka Paris-Carter and Andy Paris. It turns the spotlight towards the experiences of people on the autism spectrum, their caregivers and the people they interact with on a daily basis.

“Uncommon Sense” has deep roots in the state of the Iowa. Over the last three years, the creative team has been interviewing families across Iowa and integrating their unique stories into the narrative of the play. Rather than leaning on clichés and stereotypes, the writers have used authentic experiences to build the play.

The production also led to an invaluable partnership between the Tectonic Theater Project and the University of Northern Iowa Theatre Department. The two groups engaged in intensive workshopping that provided 14 theatre students with a unique opportunity few other Iowa institutions can offer. The students also learned under instructors from a company dedicated to social justice narratives, which will only enhance their appreciation and understanding of purposeful art.

Above all, “Uncommon Sense” is a chance to shine a light on the lives of individuals who often find themselves underrepresented in the arts. The goal is to facilitate critical consideration of neurodiversity and disrupt the labeling attached to differently abled bodies. It also offers Iowans a national stage to engage the world in powerful dialogue, not only furthering the development of awareness, but more so, nurturing deeper understanding and acceptance.

You won’t want to miss it.

“Uncommon Sense” premieres at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, and at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22, at the GBPAC. Ticket prices start at $24. Tickets can be purchased at any UNItix location, at www.gbpac.com/uncommonsense or by calling 319-273-4849.

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