Enough of the autism stereotypes: new Aussie cabaret team debunks myths
Everyone expects Ryan Smedley to be shy.
It comes with the territory, he says, when people learn he has Asperger syndrome.
Such misunderstandings are part of the reason he has joined forces with Sophie Smyth to form a cabaret show, The Aspie Hour.
Graduates from Federation University’s Arts Academy, they explore their experiences with autism and navigating the neurotypical world, through the prism of their identical love: musical theatre.
Ryan shares moments from his solo journey to New York City and the magnitude of travelling somewhere new on your own.
He wrote original songs for The Aspie Hour based on the trip, which he says was “half a really amazing idea and half a really terrible idea”.
Sophie, meanwhile, frames her life “growing up with Aspergers” in a mini-musical format.
Together they flail through misread social cues, and flaunt their ability to recall obscure musical theatre facts.
Honest and unapologetic, they debunk misconceptions about autism and re-define what it is to be an “aspie” today.
“It’s done in quite a satirical, fun way,” Sophie says.
Sophie was inspired by hit musical Wicked
“I saw Wicked when I was 13 and have seen it 13 more times since then.
“I saw it at a point where I wasn’t going to school and was very down and depressed and I saw this character with green skin who was segregated through something she couldn’t control and I immediately connected with that and thought maybe I’m not so alone.
“It had such incredible power to change my life and I thought maybe I can do something to change people’s lives as well.”
The Ballarat Cabaret Festival show aims to be both an explanation and celebration of autism, exploring issues such as understanding social cues, body language and facial expressions.
The Sunday show will be followed by a Q & A with Sophie and Ryan, and experts from the field of autism.
Presented by: Ballarat Cabaret Festival