It’s a long one ….

It has taken me most of today to get over the nerves and excitement from yesterday.  Unless you work in the industry you cannot imagine the amount of work that goes into getting that show on stage. It started off being a very late one the night before battling the clock trying to get a programme together to give to guests. I eventually put the lap top down at 2am and then lay thinking about all the things that could go wrong. I’m anxious all the time anyway but this week i’ve been hyper aware of it.

Alarm went off at 6am and I hammered away at it only pausing to get Reilly off to school. 10.20 I hit send and prayed my friend at Sploshh could print it in time (straight opposite Northern Stage so terribly handy).

Into the bathroom and there’s my toothbrush accompanied by a something I’d rather not talk about that certainly didn’t belong to me. Irretrievable. What a start.

I’ll spare you the details of the inbetween things that went wrong like the allergic reaction to my handbag and the urgent antihistamines. Back to the play.

The Life of Reilly play is blessed with being an incredible set of cast and crew.  When I say crew I include the parents of the girls.  They are there for every rehearsal and help out as much as anyone on the day.  That in turn means their families must readjust for their other children etc and we are eternally grateful. There’s always an emergency pair of American Tan tights to run for for Grandma Mary and in this case a single duvet and some fairy lights.

It was really exciting for everyone for the cast to meet Paul, Nicky & Hannah (and Dani later on) from TryLife for the first time. There to start documenting the rise of Life of Reilly. Interviews, candid shots and all round greatness. Also Kieran Rose The Autistic Advocate who has been an absolute godsend giving brutal honesty on the things he has loved or loathed about the production. We have taken every piece of advice on board and it has helped the play evolve over the last year into something really special.

From arranging vans and drivers, learning scripts, techs, lighting, props, tickets, guests it’s pretty exhausting.

Yesterdays show was by invite only at Northern Stage.  Some of the regions top business/industry men and women. There were canapés (Thank you McKennas) and bubbles on arrival and the whole thing made me stand back and admire what the play has become.  I admit seeing Ian Whyte from Game of Thrones got me incredibly excited as many will tell you i’m a little bit obsessed.  I tried for spoilers for the finale but sadly I didn’t get any, I found it highly amusing that when the photographer from Luxe Magazine cane along I was dressed with makeup on and Alison was in costume (she’s usually super glam with sparkly nails and immaculate hair etc) leggings, T-shirt with Nutella on, no make up and her hair in a pony tail. She’ll suffer for her art though 😂. Also an absolute pleasure to meet was Kim Tserkezie. Anyone who has kids will know her from Balamory. A very talented lady passionate about diversity in media. We were honoured she came along.

As guests began to gather I’d catch glimpses of myself chatting and hosting and think who the hell is this imposter. How on earth is she standing there when her knees are weak and she wants to run.

The call to take seats came and I headed down to the green room to work on my speech for free the play. I could probably tell you the script word for word I’ve seen it and read it that many times. I knew what they were laughing at without seeing the gesture or hearing the words. I knew the cast would smash it. I was nervous nonetheless.

2 cups of tea and some deep breathing I’d something that resembled a speech. Half time break and the cast came to join me. Alison still tearstained from reading the poem ”My boy and me’ what I can only describe as someone standing on my heart when I hear it onstage.

There’s a brilliant bond between everyone in the show. I watched the girls doing each other’s hair completely at ease with each other and it made me think they are forming friendships that will last. Just as the parents have. Great things happening on and off stage.

I braved the second half to watch from the wings. The laughs were loud and the sobs were heavy. The cast 200% knocked it out of the park. They were brilliant! I’m not biased – there’s are many reviews that will tell you the same thing. This play is worthy of ANY stage and should be seen on every stage.

Crap they’ve done their bows. Standing ovation, rapturous applause. It’s my turn.

I totter our and almost fall into the stage after tripping on the curtain. Just what I wanted.

I introduce myself as Christine Stephenson writer of this blog. I tell the audience about the horrific stats that accompany autistic kids/adults. Dire mental health services. Struggles, fights, trials and triumphs and also why it is crucial we make the film. I nearly cried. My voice wobbled but I pulled it back. I’m just desperate you see for everyone to understand.

Paul took to the stage to talk about TryLife from Howdon to Hollywood. How he got into filmmaking from working in youth services and certainly held everyone’s attention. The introduction to these guys is what will make this film stand out in the crowd. The vision for it is off the scale. I see awards and why the hell not.

Finally Rob Armstrong stood to address the guests and gave them a little insight into why he loves the project and why everyone should get behind us and make it happen. The Armstrong’s kickstarted our find with a 10k donation! Rob is a huge supporter of Hadrian School in Newcastle’s West End. An incredible school which caters for the needs of pupils aged between two and eleven years with a range of additional needs including complex, severe learning difficulties and profound and multiple learning difficulties. He and Bev get it.

Many guests pledged to sponsor a page of the film script (example below). An innovative way to raise some funds for us and you never know it may be worth a small fortune when those BAFTAS roll in.

The Hilton gave is an incredible prize of an overnight stay, drinks, spa, dinner, tickets to see Marvel, transport etc which raised £765! They also donated the bottles of bubbly. Big Thankyou Lynn, Janet, Toni and the lady who I didn’t catch her name (shameful) for selling tickets and being such an enormous help.

All in all I great success. If you were lucky enough to be invited I thankyou from the bottom of my heart for the love and support we have received since. I know it resonated with many. The characters and scenarios can be identified with so easily when you live The Life of Reilly in your own home. It’s time for change.

Alison who plays Joanne and who is also the writer is up for a culture award on Thursday which in itself to be a finalist is outstanding! then we have our ball on 1st June (ask me about last remaining table or 2) so not quite ready to relax for a second.

What a journey. Stress and laughter our guides.

Alison Stanley , Kelly Best – We’ve got this! Xx

#TryLifeofReilly

If you would like to support us with sponsorship or anything else please see the funding page attached. (There are offline donations to be added to this).

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-life-of-reilly-autism-film

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The Life of Reilly audition

I forgot there was a teacher training day today.  I opened Reilly’s diary on Thursday to the words enjoy your long weekend, eh? what? NO I NEED him in school. I have been looking forward to this day for weeks.  

Today was audition day for the play The Life of Reilly.  A new character will join the cast playing the part of Reilly’s friend.  We decided immediately after the last show that we should be looking to cast actually autistic actors. It just makes sense, a no brainer.

After seeing Ellis out the door this morning on a trip to High Borrans I managed to get into Newcastle with seconds to spare while grandad Ken took Reilly on a bus trip to Whitley Bay (only 2 meltdowns but epic ones 😩).

The actors were asked to read Reilly’s initial monologue.  Not easy as he’s talking to a pretend therapist at the back of the auditorium.   They were awesome.  Obviously I can’t say too much as there are still people to audition but I was genuinely blown away.

There is some amazing talent out there, I’d be nervous as hell to walk out in front of strangers and perform, in fact I don’t think I could do it.  To see these people transform with booming voices, accents and gestures is outstanding.   Let’s not forget some autistic people often walk hand in hand with anxiety daily, this was no small task. 

I felt really proud today.  I loved listening to everyone’s stories about how and why they became interested in acting  and can see Alphabetically Autistic and Red Diamond Theatre working on some amazing projects in the future.  More opportunities for these amazing people xx

You can buy tickets for The Life of Reilly at Northern Stage. 21st September. 

Please come along and support this amazing production.  

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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Batten down the hatches

What on earth have I let myself in for?  I thought when I started the blog that I would prick a few ears up and stop some of the Judge Judy’s in our local shopping centre shooting the death stare at myself and other parents struggling to keep their cool under a the gaze of an impending meltdown.  Safe to say I think thats happened.  I have been stopped in shops by people I do not know who recognise Reilly and tell me how much they love the blog and how its changed their opinion on what they thought were naughty kids and lazy parents.

Result!

I have been invited to schools to talk to other parents about The Life of Reilly which I cannot wait to get cracking with and now I am one of three Directors of Alphabetically Autistic.  How the hell did that happen?  I mean I was busy before, really busy!  I am one half of a very successful charity North East Hearts with Goals, that is more than a full time job but its saving lives and keeping our communities safe so I won’t be stopping that, I need Harry Potter’s time turner if anyone has a spare?  For the first time in my life I am going to have to apply some organisation in my life.

 I’m a professional winger, thats wing not winge.  I’m never prepared but I always manage somehow.  My home is the same there is never a pair of socks available and if you ask me where my passport is I couldn’t tell you.  So embracing this is going to be a challenge but I challenge I embrace wholeheartedly.

I’ve said it before I’m no writer – I got a D in English and C in French so go figure but I love writing this blog and will continue to do so as long as I can.  I’m writing this one still in my PJs  and watching Love Island on catch up on the Ipad, its not ideal but it’s how I like it.  We announced Alphabetically Autistic this week and the response has been tremendous I am truly looking forward to trying to make a difference to our autistic families, one thing for sure it is a family.  Nobody understands you like another parent of an autistic person.

The Life of Reilly will have its first showing in November.  First stop The Exchange in North Shields last stop Broadway?  Who knows whats around the corner I don’t but i’m looking forward to finding out.  Im really looking forward to seeing Glenn McCrory treading the boards as Reilly’s dad.

There’s a moral to this post and it is if you aren’t happy with something, get up and do something.  No one will hear you unless you make some noise.

ps Watch out restaurants because i’m not happy with the choice of dairy free food on your menus haha 🙂 

Please support us where you can.  Share our information, encourage people to get in contact come and see the play.  For more information or if you would like to reserve some tickets for The Life of Reilly please drop me an email at alphaautistic@gmail.com let’s make sure the first showing is packed.

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The Life of Reilly by Alison Stanley

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OK i’m excited! really really excited.  From what started as a blog for the autism awareness month in April we are nearly on 20k views from all over the world, some fantastic comments and lots of thank you’s for sharing what has become our very chaotic life with Reilly.

The Life of Reilly the play is happening!  Who wouldn’t want to see a play about an autistic adult looking back over his life with those quirky neuro-typicals (not  autistics).

The play will be based around The Life of Reilly our super cute, nearly 5 year old non verbal gerbil and as many of you will know from reading my prior posts there are laughs, there is heartbreak, there is despair but most importantly there is love.

I was extra excited when I found out yesterday that Reilly’s Dad will be played by the fabulous Glenn McCrory!  Obviously I knew who Glenn was but I didn’t know his story, I do now and I’m in awe.  I lost my brother too in 2003 and it leaves a black hole in your life that you teeter on the edge of everyday and try desperately not to be pulled in.  Anyone who overcomes and fights has my upmost respect because it’s hard!  Can’t wait to get cracking.

God I feel emotional!

Alison’s last play with her company The Red Diamond Theatre called  Bedsocks & Secrets all about dementia has received so much praise I know this will be a huge success.

Let’s keep autism at the forefront of the public eye, its  not going anywhere after all.

Tickets will be available to buy online soon.  You can register  interest for the play at alphaautistic@gmail.com or Red Diamond Theatre.

I hope you will all support us with The Life of Reilly and come along and see it.  I can guarantee a bittersweet experience and hopefully a new perspective on these awesome families struggling  every single day for acceptance.

Be kind as always you never know how much sleep they had last night.

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