Virginia Newcomb & Dan Shaked in ‘On the Spectrum’ at the Fountain Theatre
‘On the Spectrum’ Cast & Director Join ‘Autism in Love’ Film Makers and Autism Specialists for Post-Show Q&A
A special Q&A Talkback will immediately follow the performance of On the Spectrumthis Thursday, April 18th. Scheduled to speak and answer questions from the audience are Dr. Jason Bolton, Chief Psychologist, and Pamela Clark, Director of Autism Schools, from The Help Group; Carolina Groppa, Producer, and Matt Fuller, Director, of the independent film, Autism in Love, andNancy Alspaugh-Jackson of Autism Care and Treatment (ACT Today). The On the Spectrum cast — Jeanie Hackett, Virginia Newcomb and Dan Shaked — and director Jacqueline Schultz will also join the discussion and answer questions from the audience.
The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprehensive nonprofit of its kind in the United States serving children with special needs related to autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional problems. It is proud to be a sponsor of the Fountain Theatre’s West Coast premiere of On the Spectrum.
Autism in Love is a feature length documentary film currently in production exploring how adults with autism fall in love and manage romantic relationships. Due for release in 2014.
ACT Today! is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to raise awareness and provide treatment services and support to families to help their children with autism achieve their full potential.
Join us for the Q&A immediately following the performance on Thursday, April 18th at 8pm. It’s going to be fun and interesting.
On the Spectrum Now to April 28 (323) 663-1525MORE
Cormac is a young man who lives with his mother, Elisabeth, in a tiny apartment in New York City’s West Village. He is preparing to enter law school and Elisabeth’s employer has cut back her hours, so money is tight. Iris, a young blogger from Queens, hires Cormac to design her website. What ensues is a boy meets girl love story unlike any other.
Dan Shaked and Virginia Newcomb
Writer Ken LaZebnik’s highly acclaimed drama, “On the Spectrum,” provides a glimpse into the minds and hearts of two people faced with autism spectrum disorders. The production, directed by Jacqueline Schultz and currently on stage at the Fountain Theatre, captures the strengths and quirks of the main characters as they navigate through life. More importantly, the play serves as a testament to the need for increased awareness about autism.
The play “does a great a job of breaking down the myths about autism” says Schultz. “They can feel. They can fall in love. They can get actively involved in their own community.”
Dan Shaked & Jeanie Hackett in “On the Spectrum”
Rave reviews are rolling in for our West Coast Premiere of On the Spectrum by Ken LaZebnik, directed by Jacqueline Schultz. The Hollywood Reporter hails it as “Incandescent!” and Broadway World calls it “life-affirming” and “engrossing theatre that should be experienced by everyone.” The Examiner exclaims “If you have the opportunity to get to one play this spring, On the Spectrum is the one to see!”
Advance LA is proud to welcome LaZebnik to Day One of the Innovate Conference on Friday, April 26th, from 12:50 to 1:50pm, where he will be giving a presentation about his celebrated production. In addition, the play’s three actors — Dan Shaked as Mac, Virginia Newcomb as Iris, and Jeanie Hackett as Elisabeth — are scheduled to perform a scene from the play for Friday’s conference attendees.
Advance LA is an innovative program created and operated by The Help Group to support teens and young adults with autism, Asperger’s and other learning issues in their transition to independence.
This year’s Advance LA conference, INNOVATE, will bring together experts and innovators from diverse fields to join in exploring the newest thinking on how best to support young people preparing for a successful transition to college, the workforce, and beyond. The conference will focus on the need to devise innovative, practical, and sustainable solutions to answer questions that arise during the transitioning period, a crucial time for young people who face challenges that differ from those confronting many of their peers.
Meet the playwright and cast of On the Spectrum at the Advance LA conference on Friday, April 26th, from 12:50 to 1:50, at the American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90077.
“As with all great love stories, there are obstacles,” says Jacqueline Schultz, director of the West Coast premiere of Ken LaZebnik‘s play “On the Spectrum,” now playing to terrific reviews at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. Quirky and unexpected, “On the Spectrum’ is a love story with a difference; in LaZebnik’s award-winning play, an online e-chat blossoms into a courtship between two young people with autism. “Ken’s play is original, charming and moving.”
Schultz is an award-winning actress and a theater director at The Help Group’s Summit View School for students with learning differences. The Help Group is the largest and most innovative nonprofit of its kind in the U.S. serving children with autism, learning differences and other special needs. She was immediately drawn to the project. “Theater is about all of those things that help children learn,” says Schultz. “The art form has a special way of helping autistic children learn because it helps kids discover how to act together with others.”
In LaZebnik’s play, Mac has Asperger’s, and Iris is autistic. Many people on the autism spectrum take pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. Mac (Dan Shaked), whose mother Elizabeth (Jeanie Hackett) provided years of mainstreaming and therapy, passes as “typical.” He connects online with Iris (Virginia Newcomb), an activist who proudly champions her autism as a difference, not a disorder. A relationship quickly forms between the two.
“The play demonstrates how technology has allowed the characters to communicate what’s inside, rather than be judged on the outside,” says Schultz.
Dan Shaked and Jeanie Hackett
“Part of the love story is a mother’s love for her son,” says LaZebnik. “His mother has been his guardian and shield, his whole life. The potential of him going off with this girl obviously is hard for her, and it’s hard for him to contemplate leaving her.”
“Iris has an opinion. Elizabeth has an opinion. Mac bridges both of those worlds,” says Schultz. “Ken does a great a job of breaking down the myths about autism and autistic people. They can feel. They can fall in love. They can get actively involved in their own community.”
“I would love it,” LaZebnik says, “if people saw these characters as just two unique human beings who fall in love.”
Winner of a 2012 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award citation and a 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play award, “On the Spectrum” was commissioned by Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, where artistic director Jack Reuler directed the premiere as part of the Center of the Margins Festival. Ken LaZebnik has written two other plays about autism: Vestibular Sense, which also premiered at Mixed Blood, was honored with an award from the American Theatre Critic’s Association at the Humana Festival in Louisville; and Theory of Mind, commissioned for young audiences by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, has also been produced in Minnesota, Hawaii and Michigan, and was published by Dramatic Publishing.
Schultz has worked as a theater director/educator with learning disabled students for over 12 years. As a professional actress, she was recently seen at the Fountain in the U.S. premiere of Athol Fugard’s “The Blue Iris.”
Ken LaZebnik’s “On the Spectrum” is earning wonderful reviews and is currently running at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles through April 28.