This Play Dehumanises Autistic Children — Pull It Now!

  • by: Frances D
  • recipient: Southwark Playhouse

All in a Row is a play "about an autistic child and his family." This play is causing distress to many autistic people, including me. Why? The only autistic character is being represented by a puppet. All of the other characters are portrayed by human actors.

The National Autistic Society, who were consulted on the play, has spoken out against it. The production company openly chose to ignore the NAS. The company has also responded to autistic people's online feedback with a mix of contradictory, cynical excuses and outright dismissal.

Dehumanising depictions of autism hurt all autistic people and affect our daily lives. The common misconceptions that we lack feelings and empathy are profoundly harmful.

Please sign this petition to ask that Southwark Playhouse cancels All in a Row in its current form, and develops guidelines for the ethical representation of disabled people in their wonderful theatre.

The autistic character in the play has high support needs and is non-verbal. The play, which focuses on the feelings and needs of his parents, reduces the child to a puppet. Autistic children with similar needs are often silenced, tortured, trained like dogs, given bleach enemas, and even killed. In short, violently dehumanised.

My life experiences and daily needs are very different. But as one of many experienced artists, advocates, allies and autistic folk, I am clear that this play is a regressive, dangerous portrayal of autism and of a particularly vulnerable minority within our community. 

Please sign this petition. Together we can take a stand against the dehumanisation of autistic people. 

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