Echolalia show explores Asperger's via clowning at 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This article is from 2013


New-Zealander clown show tackles taboos of autism

‘I don’t know if I would categorically say clowning is the best medium for the subject of Asperger’s,’ says Jen McArthur, performer in New Zealand-based Kallo Collective’s show Echolalia, ‘but I do think it is an excellent medium.’

McArthur developed Echolalia – named after the term for automatically repeating a word or phrase spoken by another person – after she began working with autistic children on a holiday programme. In the solo show, which fuses clowning and physical theatre, McArthur plays Echo, a woman with Asperger’s syndrome preparing for a big job interview.

‘Clowning portrays people who meet failure time and time again but don’t get fazed by it,’ says McArthur. ‘There is a strength in the openness; the audience recognises our common humanity and accepts the fact that no one is perfect.’

For a while McArthur was concerned that people who hadn’t seen the show might misinterpret her intentions and take offence. But the reactions afterwards have been positive. ‘There is something about Echo that almost everyone relates to – maybe something universal about feeling socially gauche.’

C aquila, 0845 260 1234,1–26 Aug (not 12), 3.40pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£3.50–£7.50).


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Jen McArthur & Kallo Collective (New Zealand). Jen McArthur uses clown, physical theatre and dance to portray the subject of Asperger's Syndrome and the pitfalls of etiquette. Inspired by the humour and directness of autistic children while working on a holiday program, McArthur's delightful character Echo doesn't…