EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: Shakespeare & Autism

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When we think outside of the box, magical things can happen. There is a UNCW theatre professor who brought a special project to Wilmington a couple years ago and it is changing lives.  WWAY’S Daniel Seamans introduces us to the Extraordinary Person of the Week.

“Every game starts with what is known as the heartbeat hello and ends with the heartbeat goodbye.”  Robin Post has a passion for theatre. It’s a passion that goes far beyond a stage. “There is something about working with children with autism that takes,” she told WWAY’s Daniel Seamans. “If it takes for you, you don’t ever want to stop doing it.”

Robin’s current work at UNCW includes a program that uses drama to break through the communicative blocks of autism.

“Although all of the work is focused or targeted towards the core features of autism and those challenges,” Robin said, “for me, the biggest takeaway for these children is that they have an hour of time where they are fully playing with each other and they are not thinking ‘am I doing this right or doing this wrong?’ and they aren’t being constantly remind of the things that maybe make them feel deficient.”

It’s called “Shakespeare and Autism”. The class just wrapped up its second year. “Shakespeare has all these heightened emotional moments,” Robin said of why she chose Shakespeare plays. “It’s not subtle. That’s the reason Shakespeare works is because of the large gest of these characters, their emotional interaction is huge.”

Her program brings UNCW students and children with autism together. Everyone plays a role and everyone benefits.

“This hour of focused time,” Robin said of the deep connection with the kids and students, “takes it all away in a way that you are tapping, it’s sort of cliche, but you’re tapping into humanity and connection that doesn’t often happen and it’s all happening through play. It’s kind of indescribable.”

Not all the students are actors. Some of the students are psychology, education and english majors.

“If you aren’t doing it, or you are faking it, they can tell,” Robin said. “And so unlike other acting classes where there is this sense of “am I doing my craft right, what are my peers thinking?” This is about stripping all of that away and getting down and dirty and playing like you did when you were five.”

And helping a kid get to be a….kid.

“Feeling like they don’t have control of their day is a big piece of the puzzle and to give them an hour of time where they are in control and they are just full on having fun is like so awesome,” Robin said.

Robin Post, YOU are awesome. On the biggest stage of the them all, the stage of life, you are EXTRAORDINARY!

The ‘Shakespeare and Autism’ program works in coordination with OASIS NC and the AUTISM SOCIETY OF NC.

You can find more insight on Robin’s backhttp://www.autism-society.org/ground on UNCW’s website.

Video of the classes courtesy of UNCW Media.

Categories: Extraordinary People Next Door, Features, Local, New Hanover

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