Endings and Beginnings

Rhi Lloyd-Williams

by Rhi Lloyd-Williams

What a year!

2019 saw our play The Duck: a glimpse into one autistic woman’s world, performing at Fringe Festivals, Conferences and (of course) so many fabulous theatres around the UK.

It was a real privilege to have been a part of the post-show Q&As. Hearing how people feel about this autistic woman, baring all (metaphorically) and showing all the parts of her that a lifetime taught her to keep quiet, was incredible.

What always amazes me most about sharing my experience of autism with the world, is just how much people share back. When you’ve grown up unsure about who you are supposed to be, and you’ve been taught that your natural ways of communicating are so often misunderstood, it is a risky business reclaiming the truth through showing people who you are – the good bits and the more difficult bits.

There’s always a risk that people will reject you all over again, but thankfully that wasn’t where 2019 took us. We engaged with so many new audiences, we developed new ways of putting on shows, we thought about how to help people get to the venues; we put a lot of effort into thinking about all the barriers autistic people face, and it really paid off.

I don’t think I have ever felt less alone than on that stage, after Lucy Theobald has finished her incredible performance of my words, engaging with everyone who gave me their time and emotions.

One of the Q&As, hosted by poet extraordinaire Kate Fox with me and Lucy Theobald who plays The Duck discussing autism, the arts and more.

But this is not an end, it’s just another beginning! The show must go on! 2020 has us moving on pastures new!

On the 14th and 15th of January we are heading to The Alma Tavern and Theatre for our unmissable opening nights of the tour.

Then we are off to The Spring Arts Centre in Havant, which is so close to my old stomping grounds, I can’t wait to breathe that air again.

In February we finally get to London for the first time, in the brilliant Studio of Greenwich Theatre on the 4th and 5th of February – I am more than a little bit excited about this one, any excuse for a London visit.

And then we are finally making it a bit further North with our performance in The Deli Theatre Sheffield on 7th of March – I love Sheffield so I think this one is going to be really special.

But the journey doesn’t end there. This year we have decided to brave the heady heights of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’m not going to pretend that the mere idea doesn’t terrify me – all those crowds, all that relentlessness – but it seems like the right time for The Duck to swim those waters.

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us so far, it’s the audience response that keeps us going. And an enormous thank you to Lucy Theobald for acting my words with such understanding and to Jo Loyn our director, for moulding those words into a performance.

If you know anyone who might be interested in coming along to see the show (this is very much a show for everyone and not just people with an autistic connection) or in reviewing The Duck, then you can find all the links to future dates on performances or please do get in touch – contact

Artistic Autism Awareness

by Rhi Lloyd-Williams @outfoxgloved

 

It’s Autism Awareness Month, a time for everyone to be aware of autism. Is it hiding behind that lamppost? Is it watching from your closet? Will it clasp your leg with a leathery claw from beneath the bed?

 

Probably not. Probably.

 

Autism Awareness is a curious beast, being aware of autism is a bit like being aware that a foreign country exists; you’ve heard of it, you might know a few stereotypes about the people who live there, but beyond that, all most people really know is that it’s a bit… foreign.

 

Autism Awareness can feel like a sensory bombardment of clamouring noise. There are the people who hold up autism by the throat and denounce it as the enemy. There are the people who give it a patronising pat on the head and tell us all how weird autism is, but that it should be accepted anyway. There are a thousand voices crescendoing with Autism Awareness.

 

And somewhere beneath that noise, there’s a voice, or a sign, or a wave of a hand, of autistic people waiting to be listened to.

 

I’d love it if people were a little more aware of that voice. A little more willing to listen. When you’re talking about autism, you’re talking about people with a social processing condition, this doesn’t make us the most persistent social communicators. By definition, you might need to listen a little harder, seek us out, make a point of amplifying those voices.

 

This Autism Awareness Month I would love it if everyone used the time to seek out autistic voices and expression. Find the autistic artists, musicians, poets, read something by an autistic author, find a way to listen to a new perspective and see another angle. Be truly aware of autism and all its twists and turns.

 

Autism awareness doesn’t end on April the 30th, it’s a year-round thing, it’s a lifelong thing, it’s a human thing. If I can tempt you along to hear my voice through another’s lips in June, then I would very much love to see you there.

 

“The Duck” is my first play, it dances around stories and memories to give one angle of autism.

 

You can find where and when it will be performed here