The Life of Reilly Premiere was a success!

So the premiere was an amazing success!  I have never been quite so terrified in the days leading upto the event.  Will people like it, will people turn up and watch it, will people want to see more, what the hell will I say for my speech, why wont Reilly sleep for more than 4 hours this week?  Will Alison kill someone?  I could go on.

A lot of people who couldn’t make it (thankfully they didn’t as it was fit to burst) have asked  for more information about the ideology behind it all so here goes.

The short film was made to hi-light the distinct lack of support for families by the powers that be.  My greatest support comes from other parents, my actually autistic friends and Reilly’s teachers/school.  We have some incredible schools in the area unfortunately there are not enough places for our kids and many are shoehorned into the wrong environments.  It causes massive problems.  We certainly had a fight on our hands to ensure Reilly could get the education he deserves and is entitled to, we are not alone in that.

The film is a short and will be entered into short film festivals and used as a hook to try and secure funding for a feature film.  The short film which  you can view or download below for a very small fee (proceeds towards feature) looks at an ordinary morning with an extraordinary family.  How easy a life of rigid routine can become absolute chaos when the wrong transport arrives.  Transport can be a massive headache for SEN familes .  Alison Stanley who plays Joanne and also wrote the play The Life of Reilly and Charlie Price who plays Reilly do such an incredible job at really making the whole scenario hit very close to home.

The feature film which is already in writing will follow Reilly from conception, well actually just after as it won’t be an 18, right the way through to young man.  It will all be based on real life events and I can ensure you will be witty, entertaining, heartwarming with a little touch of heartbreaking reality I am sure many will identify with.  The film will most certainly call out the problems Reilly and others like him face on a daily basis.  Autistic actors, crew and consultants is a given for the feature film too.

We need this.  We have a chance to reach a huge audience and squash those myths, promote inclusion and to be frank get people to stop acting like dicks around these families making all our lives a little easier.  It’s about being human and education as I said on the night and I quote.

I’ve been that person rolling my eyes at the parent standing over their screaming child in the supermarket.  Mine would never do that! What a fool I was.  Thats what I saw a parent with no control over their child.  What i didn’t see was a child overwhelmed by their surroundings – of sights, smells and sound.  What I didn’t see was a parent desperate to just blend in, a parent desperate to help their child and get out of that situation.   I judged because I didn’t see.  I didn’t understand.

If you were there on the night you would have been lucky enough to hear a speech by Kieran Rose The Autistic Advocate.  It was incredible.  I hadn’t had a sneek peek at what he was going to say before hand and it really blew me away.  Focus was on responsibility to ensure the narrative is right.  Ill post Kieran’s transcript up in a separate blog post as it deserves its own platform.   The Q & A after the film with myself, Alison, Charlie, Scott and Kieran promoted some excellent discussion and enabled many of the audience to quiz Kieran about being actually autistic and Scott’s take on being an autistic actor.   Charlies answer to how was meeting the real Reilly melted by heart.  He’s an incredible kid and I know for fine fact we will be seeing so much more of him.

So please support us take this to the next level.  Take a look at the short film and please send me a review of your thoughts.

A massive thank you to everyone who took the time out to attend on Wednesday it means the world to us and  to every single person who donated, came to Reilly’s fundraiser, gave their time to help raise funds and those who shared our posts and helped spread the word.

Alison Stanley, Charlie Price, Chrissy Rock, Andy Mills, Scott Ritchie, Stephen Woods and the whole clan from Act2Cam.    Thankyou for a great experience.  I look forward to many more breakfast meetings with Alison & Kelly plotting the next. Got lots of exciting things in the pipeline.

Did I ever think i’d be hosting a film premiere and listed as an Executive Producer? Hell no. 

Did I think i’d be trying to make a difference for my boy?  Hell yes and will continue to do so. 

The Life of Reilly from ACT 2 CAM

 

Reillys Party

Last night I couldn’t sleep.  Terrified that no-one would turn up for Reilly’s party.  When I opened the blinds to see the snow bleaching down outside I felt even worse!

I packed up my little mini with raffle and tombola prizes and set off at 2 miles an hour to pick up the party squad and get set up.

I needn’t have worried. At 1 o clock the doors opened and people flooded in.  The room was packed!  Reilly was brilliant for a good hour after that he clung to me and typed McDonalds into my phone constantly 🙂 we spent a bit of time outside and that’s ok. We also spent a little bit of time in the foyer reading a George Pig book.  When you need 5  minutes you need 5 minutes.

The children partied TOGETHER  it was so lovely to see.  It was amazing to hear some of the parents had used examples from my blog to explain about stimming etc to their children before they came.  This is what it’s all about!! Education and acceptance.

Special mentions today go to those people who gave up their own time to come and entertain the children.  These people are priceless coming along at such a busy time to help the local community.

Rite Rhythm Disco  contacted me and said if we ever needed someone for a disco he would love to help us out. He has an autistic son also and gets it.   He did today and did an amazing job.

Party Animals came along to show and tell the children about animals. Snakes, frogs, guinea pigs, dragons. The kids absolutely loved it!!

 

Martin the Magician was a huge hit! Hilarious and kept the kids entertained perfectly. Thoroughly recommended.

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Sandra McGrath from Cramlington Village Club didn’t hesitate when I asked if they could help us out with the venue.  They also donated prizes for our raffle.

Hannah Wilkinson our beautiful Elsa who I only met a few weeks ago came today after I heard her singing at our annual charity ball.  She did an incredible job and the kids were mesmerised by her

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Maisey Maxwell our little helper who set up her own stall to do glitter tattoos for the children (and adults I noticed).  Awesome!

And not to forget our raffle ticket, tombola selling, room decorating squad!

With tickets purchased online and the party today Reilly’s party raised just short of £500!

BUT …

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Marce Gaygaskel who plays Granny Mary in the play The Life of Reilly superbly wrote a cheque for £1000 today.  She believes in this project as much as we do.  Absolutely blown away by her generosity.  Cannot thank Marce enough.

Our crowdfunding when all paid in will stand at just over 4k.  We can do this!

We have 12 days then we can fund this pilot and start shooting in February. Crowdfunder Life of Reilly

He’s fast asleep now but has kept looking through the photos and videos.  He absolutely loved the DJ equipment and did a bit scratching 🙂

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Jaycee’s Party

What a week! Since Shane’s post about Reilly went viral I have spent my time pretty much trying to keep up with the thousands of messages we have received.  Messages from all around the world all with the same story – that happened to us too and still is happening from child through to adult.

I am overwhelmed and heartbroken in equal measures about how much of an enormous problem inclusion is for our fantastic kids. In fact not just our kids, I have had messages from parents who’s kids are excluded by friends and family members, adults excluded because of race, religion, the LGBT community and many more.  We are all human and this just isn’t good enough.  Who are we to judge another?    

I received a message on Wednesday night on our way to London to talk to This Morning.

It was from a Mam who has had the same problem, she arranged a tea party for her beautiful little girl Jaycee which no one attended, they were having another in a place close to me with cakes and a magician and would we like to attend and we did attend yesterday!

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Because we were somewhere new and there were a lot of new faces it took him a little while to settle but once he did he was brilliant.  He did spend the first 10 minutes trying to open Jaycee’s presents but problem solved simply by moving them out of sight.

He skirted the edges as the children sat on the floor watching the magician (who was awesome by the way John Penman).  He didn’t join in the games directly but watched from the sidelines.  He loved the cake!!  He danced to gangnam style and shocked me by grabbing the microphone and becoming very vocal,  not words anyone would understand but for me I’ll take it and I loved it.

An amazing family with an incredible little girl.  Kindness costs nothing people and will enrich your life. Maybe more people should try it.

Thankyou Tanya & her family for making us so welcome. xx

The Life of Reilly – Missed it? You missed out!

Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve ever had. You don’t hear that from me very often. The Life of Reilly play was on at The Northern Stage one of my favourite theatres. It was sold out completely and in hindsight we should have booked 2 nights.

Alison picked me up at 9am to take the props to the theatre. It’s not a big grand set, it’s actually an eclectic mix of household items pulled together to look like a well lived in family home with its assortment of discarded toys, washing and the odd bra.

I loved lurking around behind the scenes.  I did NOT love having to play Reilly’s part in the tech and rehearsals.  Standing under the spotlight reading out these lines to an empty theatre in my usual squeaky, irritating tone.  How do they do it?  Give me tonsilitus any day over acting.  I sat on a marshmallow teacake ready for the party scene, stood on another and trailed it around the perfectly painted pitch black floor. Page 28 of the script stuck to said marshmallow on shoe and followed us.  Awful.  I’ll stick to being bossy and irritating.  I did serve my purpose though and it was quite exciting despite epic cringe levels.

It’s old hat for Alison. Her last play Bedsock’s and Secrets about dementia was outstanding. It had a spell at the Edinburgh fringe as well as many theatre’s and was eventually snapped up by the NHS trust to be used as a training tool. She’s super-talented and has done an exceptional job here with The Life of Reilly – writing, producing and acting.  You know from the opening seconds that it’s been written by someone in the know and that just continues to gather substance throughout.  Real scenarios experienced by real people.  I have to admit I love the numerous ‘meetings’ between myself, Kelly and Alison discussing funny, heartbreaking, sad, happy; incredible things that have happened between us over a traditional breakfast (I’m sometimes Farmhouse because I’m greedy).  Autism Mama’s who get it, who live it and want you to get it too.

I love sitting in the audience watching peoples reactions to the play.  There is always tears, there is always some swearing (just a little bit), there is always laughter and there is always a standing ovation (I know it’s just the second time it’s been done shhhhhh).  The tech guys even had a tear at the back of the house.

Now i’m not being biased.  If I had seen this produced by any other company I would give it the best review and the highest star rating simply because the acting is brilliant, it is an accurate portrayal of many of our lives (see ‘Joanne’ politely discussing the school transport issue with the Council)  We’ve all done it.  The characters are lovable even the old bag Granny Mary and it educates most importantly.

Between acts 1 & 2 I talked to people to gather their thoughts.  They were blown away.  I talked to a lady sat on her own at the back who had bought the last ticket.  That lady was a GP on the Northern Stage’s mailing list and on seeing the content thought she SHOULD see it and I agree.  Every GP, teacher, police officer, nurse, therapist, social worker, teaching assistant, sibling, grandparent – you see where i’m going with this.

It’s a small cast and it works perfectly.

We have Kris Roberts who plays Reilly.  

Kris plays it so well you can feel his struggle and vulnerability as a child but his humour shines through in just the right places.

Alison Stanley plays Joanne Reilly’s Mam.  

Fierce, reads everything, challenges everyone and takes no shit.  Joanne is me, Joanne is every Mam that knows what an EHCP is, Joanne is every Mam that lies awake at night wondering what happens when she dies.

Steve Woods from Act2Cam plays Ged Reilly’s Dad.

Ex military turned doorman who fears he isn’t good enough and keeps his fears and emotions bottled in.  His parts break my heart in two.  If you know Steve you know why.

Marce Gaygaskell plays Granny Mary.  

Sarcastic, blunt without an ounce of empathy.  I find her parts hilarious and she has some of my favourite one liners.

Warren Simpson plays Clarkey Geds best friend and fellow doorman.

Tries his best and puts his foot in it everytime its open.  Prone to the odd swear word, a can of red stripe and a pizza.

and then there is Scott Ritchie.  

We auditioned for an actually autistic actor to play Reilly’s friend Craig, we did that because it makes sense and because well we scream for inclusion yet hadn’t included ourselves, the cast have learned from him and his opinion has been invaluable.  He did an amazing job of which he should be extremely proud.  I would not, could not have the courage to stand on that stage and lay bare how being autistic makes him feel.  How he feels it through the fibres in his clothes, on his skin, to the bones.  Scott even had some amazing video messages of encouragement from amazing actors Morven Christie, Richard Mylan, and Kacey Ainsworth.

I know Alison will be looking to work on more projects with actually autistic people – there’s some incredible talent there.

Their characters progress throughout the performance with understanding and acceptance that their lives are the same but different and you will love them all, including Granny Mary.

When the play ended there was a standing ovation which was truly deserved.  I feel like the audience really feel like they’ve been on the same journey.  To be fair a lot of the audience already have or are going through it now.

So we love it, the audience loves it, the guys at the Northern Stage loved it so it would be only fair that it happens all over again.  Please watch this space for the next date.  You will not be disappointed and I will guarantee you will learn something.

Autism isn’t going anywhere.  Why should autistic people have to take years to learn to adapt to fit in what is perceived to be typical. To surpress how they want to express for fear of  persecution because it’s not ‘normal’.  WTF is ‘normal’ anyway.  Understand it and be more accommodating as humans.

Proud to be a part of it all and thankful I have these people in my life.  xx

 

 

 

 

Theatre of Education

There is a status currently doing the rounds on Facebook about teaching your children to be more understanding of those who are different.  This is the post:

I would just like to put this out there! If your kids are not around special needs kids at school and have never been taught that not everyone is the same then maybe you could take 10 min tonight to explain this to them because even though they may not be around these kids at school they will encounter them in their lives, as it should be.

In the light of recent events on the exclusion of a child who has autism from participating in a school trip and a child with Downs Syndrome being kicked out of dance class because she couldn’t keep up, I feel the need to share this. There are boys and girls that nobody invites to birthday parties. There are special kids who want to belong to a team but don’t get selected because it is more important to win than include these children. Children with special needs are not rare or strange, they only want what everyone else wants: to be accepted !!
For all the wonderful children out there.
Can I ask a question? Is there anyone willing to copy and paste this post to their wall without sharing it, like I did for those special children out there

Now I’m not one for copying and pasting statuses usually but this just encapsulates everything that we are trying to achieve with the Theatre of Education via Alphabetically Autistic. So go that one step further help us make it happen.  I see numerous times everyday how heartbroken people are at videos and stories of children with special needs being bullied.  Imagine being the parent of one of those children, we know the stats are way higher for it happening to our children and it makes me incredibly sad and fiercely protective.

Education as with everything in life is the key.

Putting Really Reilly on in schools or in theatre’s for public showing will really help children understand.  I cannot stand to see these children being mocked and believe me I have witnessed it on too many occasions.

Please help get Really Reilly to your child’s school and help us promote inclusion and acceptance for these kids, they deserve it.  Email alphaautistic@gmail.com for more information and booking.

Use your voice to make us heard.  Share this brilliant initiative.

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