Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

A Different Rhythm: Exploring the Notion of Movement as a Means of Autistic Communication Onstage

Publication Date

Spring 4-9-2022


Music and Performing Arts, College of


Theatre and Dance, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. James Al-Shamma

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Even to those who work in theatre, the idea of what it looks and sounds like can be narrow and inaccessible to some. For instance: most practitioners would agree that a theatrical experience requires actors who can deliver lines with emotion. Immediately, this preconception excludes the possibility of a theatrical experience that does not fit those requirements -- particularly, one delivered from an autistic perspective. Many autistic people are nonverbal, and many have a difficulty conveying emotion in a way that fits into the prescribed notions of expression set by society. Whether it be verbal, non-verbal vocalization, sign language, autistic communication is often misunderstood or overlooked in real life; by extension, it is then less likely to appear on stage. I seek to explore the possibility of autistic communication onstage via an arts initiative that focuses on the individual experiences and natural communication styles of the people who take part in it.

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