As the biggest performing arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival plays host every August to an enormous range of wonderful and unique shows. But this year’s festival featured something particularly special: an original play about ASD performed entirely by adults on the autism spectrum.
Presented by West London Community College, a two-campus facility offering education for adults with ASD, “The Trip” is a new comedy penned by WLCC teacher Jamie Foster. She hoped to raise awareness and paint a new picture of the complex, diverse condition that is ASD, and was reportedly inspired by the success of the West End hit play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which features a teenage boy with ASD as its protagonist. Foster originally wrote the piece for WLCC students to perform at the college’s annual Christmas presentation day. The show was so well received that, after an intense period of planning and fundraising, the decision was made to take the show to the Edinburgh Fringe.
“The Trip” is a special piece in that it offers a new way to educate its audiences about ASD. A small number of plays, most notably “Curious Incident,” feature ASD characters or discuss the condition, but almost none are actually performed by people who have ASD themselves. “The Trip,” with its cast comprised of adults on the autism spectrum, allows spectators a unique glimpse into the real-life world of these individuals, and encourages audiences to face and adjust their previous assumptions about what it means to have ASD.
Over the course of its eight-day Edinburgh run, “The Trip” attracted more than 300 audience members and sold out three of its performances. And according to Foster, while the festival is over, more adventures may yet be in store for the production and its cast.