Geordie Theatre brings neurodivergent voices to stage with Other Worlds
By Samara O’Gorman
In October, Maison Théâtre welcomed Other Worlds to their stage, a mainstage production by Geordie Theatre. Written by Stephen Patrick Booth and directed by Jessica Abdallah, the play follows a small island overrun by land developers and two entirely different strangers – Kale (played by Christopher de Varennes) and Riley (played by Robyn Vivian).
The characters serendipitously meet after an unexpected ecological disaster whilst both seeking safety in a bunker. Kale and Riley have conflicting personalities, but both agree about their shared dislike for the developers that are ruining their homes. This eventually leads them into a plan for survival and gifts the audience with an unforgettable story of friendship, community and belonging.
The play was inspired by Geordie’s From You to Us to You initiative and was developed and presented in collaboration with Summit School. Both collected poems, stories and essays from students, which were used to directly influence and build the play. The impact this collaboration had was showcased when a group of high school students attended the talkback after the play and were eager to ask the actors questions about the characters they played.
One question was directed to de Varennes, who played Kale. The student was curious about the character’s repetitive body movement or noises throughout the play. He explained that some neurodivergent individuals use “stimming” to help manage emotions and regulate the body when faced with a dysregulating source, whether sensory, social, informational or emotional. De Varennes explained that stimming is a natural response that is visible in both neurodivergent people and others, and that no one person will react in the same way. Witnessing this student learn about stimming was a great example as to why neurodivergent awareness is crucial in youth education.
Other Worlds celebrates neurodiverse stories and neurodivergent voices. In the trailer, de Varennes shared the impact the play has made to the neurodivergent community. “I think I’d feel a lot of pride... seeing someone who has maybe had the same difficulties as me in my life, to do that – and thrive.”
Geordie Theatre's recent play highlights how human diversity can thrive on stage, and most importantly, how the self-identity of the individual is always, positively impacted.
Keep up to date with Geordie’s future shows and events at geordie.ca
Samara O’Gorman is a Montreal-based actress, author and Irish Studies scholar.