Last year, I discovered the #actuallyautistic community on Twitter. These brilliant folk have been the source of much information, validation, and friendship.
One brave soul from their ranks noticed that she and I lived close together, and suggested a meet-up. Having both acknowledged that socialising with strangers was usually very low on our to-do lists, a procrastinate-tastic period followed. Then, thanks again to Twitter’s #actuallyautistic community, fate gave us a nudge with an event that seemed designed exclusively for us… in the shape of “The Duck.”
Penned by Rhi Lloyd-Williams of Autact Theatre, this one-actor showcase by Lucy Theobald spoke to us both in a voice so clear and pure, a voice that said, “no, it’s not just you.” Delivered as a monologue, it describes a young autistic woman’s attempts to come to terms with the masks others wear, and discover which might fit her. By turns funny, hopeful, and heart-breaking, it blends delicacy with a deep dive into how it feels to be at odds with the world, and yet madly in love with it and wanting to belong.
“The usual representation of autism is not someone like me. They’re usually children and male. It’s so important that we see autistic women out there too. That representation is vital.”
And so it was that we two Twitter strangers quacked happily with ideas and relief right through the 3 hour round trip to see it, freed up by the permission the show gave us to tell our stories and connect.
The flyer has been pinned to my office noticeboard ever since. It’s now a part of my “good things happen” gallery. The reverse even has origami instructions to make your very own paper duck. (Wouldn’t that look nice next to a paper lifeboat..?)
The Duck is doing another fly-past near me soon; this time, to Exeter’s Cygnet Theatre next Friday 15th February.
I’ve already bought my fistful of tickets to see it again, and can’t recommend it highly enough.
If you think you’re a duck and would like to come, but are lost for someone to sit with, drop me a line – maybe I’ll see you there!