As with many ideas in the last year I was on a train somewhere in London when I dreamt up Reasons For Listing. It certainly didn’t come out fully formed – Charlie would give it the working title which has firmly stuck a week or so later – and I wasn’t sure exactly how all the pieces slotted together. But I knew then I wanted to write about an adult with Autism (and not the Savant-style Autism that apears in many fictional portrayals) and I wanted the piece to be in some way interactive. That the experience of Autism should be a catalyst for an interactive piece seemed oddly right in a way that I couldn’t quite articulate but which instinctively felt right.
The plot fell together quickly and I soon began to get a feel for who Joseph, Reasons For Listing‘s protagonist, was (and indeed is for, really, we are still getting to know each other). My starting point – intensely personal and spotted with the kind of fears that if I thought about them too hard would prevent me from sleeping – was there but no loner visible. Reasons For Listing is about a young man who has Asperger’s Syndrome but it’s also about growing up, striking out on your own and puzzling out the world around you. Which, at some point, every one of us has to do (for some it is, quite simply, a bit later or a bit harder than for others).
It’s a cliche to say that a picture paints a thousand words. I’m a playwright so I wouldn’t dismiss words so easily. But what might a photograph express? If we were to choose them what might it say about us? Living alone for the first time Joseph begins to create a photographic list of everything which makes him happy. And those pictures told a story too; there’s something about the photos that I realised he would choose that elevated him from casual labels. Because we’re all a lot more complex than a throw-away sentence describing some aspect of who we are.
As it stands I have a draft of Reasons For Listing which is labelled 0.75. In the next few weeks it’s going into the hands of both Charlie and a willing actor and it will undoubtedly see itself anew again at that point. But before we get there there’s the vital part of Reasons For Listing that requires your contribution:
If you were to take a photograph of something which makes you happy what would it be?
The idea is that Joseph’s story will never quite be the same in any two performances, changed as it is by the photos that people submit. For there is Joseph’s list of things that make him happy and then there are the lists those who he comes into contact with (or, equally pertinently, who come into contact with him). And that includes you.
We’ve written up all the details here and the only limit to what can be submitted it your imagination. Equally, if you want to submit more than one photograph please feel free.
So, what makes you happy?