BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

21/10/2021 - 21/10/2021

TAHI Festival 2021

Production Details

A young woman on the autistic spectrum prepares for a much needed job interview and society’s social norms are put under the spotlight in this mesmerising clown theatre and dance show by Jen McArthur.

Inspired by the different perspectives, struggles and joys of autistic children she worked with, and her own recent journey to self diagnosis, McArthur’s delightful character Echo doesn’t register social niceties, yet wants to be part of the world.

“A genuinely comic yet heartwarming piece of gentle brilliance. ***** ” – Edinburgh Guide

Audience members with hearing sensitivity please bring ear protectors for the sound of a dust buster/ vacuum cleaner being used. We will indicate this before it will be started in the performance.

The 6.30pm performance of Echolalia will be performed with NZSL interpreter Angela Murray.
The NZSL interpreter will be sharing the stage with writer and performer Jen McArthur.  The creative team for this interpreted version of the show are Deaf and hearing – Jen and Deaf Consultant Kellye Bensley will be working together to make this piece fully accessible for Deaf audiences.

The 8.30 performance will not be NZSL interpreted.

BATS Theatre, The Random Stage 
21 October 2021
6:30pm & 8:30pm
The Difference $40
Full Price $22
Group 6+ $18
Concession Price $15

The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

See more this TAHI FESTIVAL with a TAHI TASTER Season Pass!
Get THREE TICKETS for any three TAHI shows:
$45 Full Price (saving up to $21) / $36 Concession (saving up to $10)

19-23 October
A celebration of solo performance, TAHI is a five-day Festival at BATS Theatre dedicated to showcasing the finest and most engaging solo theatre from all around Aotearoa.
@tahifestivalnz| #TAHI2021

Theatre , Improv , Clown ,

1 hr

Remarkably conceived, salutary in nature and effect, quietly poignant

Review by Margaret Austin 22nd Oct 2021

Go on, admit it – you’ve never heard of the word that forms the title of this show. “Echolalia is the meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words as a symptom of psychiatric disorder.” How’s that for a contemporary clown performance premise?  

On the BATS Random stage, its creator and performer Jen McArthur has taken her experience of autistic children and spun them into a unique piece of theatre. The set is Echo’s living room, with an old-fashioned radio, a Qantas bag and a large whiteboard the most prominent features. The whiteboard holds in large letters Echo’s to-do list for the day, and this proves central to the theme and action we are to witness.

If you don’t know much about autism, you might be puzzled by the compulsive repetitive nature of counting as our character whirls into action – dusting, tidying objects on her ironing board, hanging up her coat. She dons headphones, turns up her radio and dances to racy music while chanting fragments from overheard television scripts and ads (remember Moccona?). “You are the weakest link” is especially evocative.

Her simple-seeming domestic happiness is interrupted by a phone call. Echo needs a job, wants a job, but to get a job involves an interview, and Sarah, on the other end of the phone, has a possible job offer. But this is the sticking point. “Interview practice” is on the to-do list. She could be a receptionist; she could be a rest home carer. Echo alternately toys with possibilities and checks with us for our reactions.

These interactions form the most revealing and entertaining moments of the performance, as Echo confronts various audience members with questions such as “How old are you?” “Are you married?” “Why not?” “How much money do you make?” All of which illustrate the lack of social niceties so typical of autism.

This is a remarkably conceived piece of theatre – salutary in nature and effect, and quietly poignant. Echo’s physical performance and words are accompanied by NZSL interpreter Angela Murray, and their interaction (developed with Deaf Consultant Kellye Bensley) provides an unusual additional delight.

The story reaches a denouement we wholeheartedly welcome. 


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