Vestibular Sense

Recent Mixed Blood Premiere Examines the World of Autism When a young man with autism and a perseverant predilection for […]

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Recent Mixed Blood Premiere Examines the World of Autism

When a young man with autism and a perseverant predilection for roller coasters gets caught up in Fourth of July hi-jinks at a Norse theme park, his autism proves to be simultaneously an advantage and a bane. This touching, comic drama illustrates the frustration and élan of people with autism and the friends, family, and colleagues who surround them. Written by Ken LaZebnik, Garrison Keillor’s co-screenstory writer for the “A Prairie Home Companion” movie.

[Summary from]

Playwright Ken LaZebnik got his inspiration for his new play “Vestibular Sense“ from his two family members who live with autism! He used the play to awaken our minds to this disability, and to give us a greater understanding of the everyday obstacles that people with autism have to overcome. These are basically the same obstacles faced by people with other disabilities..

“Vestibular Sense” presents the age-old specter of disability stereotypes: how the general public tries to box in disabled people, how those without disabilities think they know best for people with disabilities. But the play does more; it opens our minds to a different possibility—that each situation involving someone who is disabled should be looked at openly and each person treated uniquely!

The Mixed Blood Theater cast, through Mr. LaZebnik’s strong characters, offer deeply affecting performances. Brian Skellenger was outstanding in his portrayal of Isaac and his life with autism—truly a Tony Award-winning effort. His performance touched my heart. I live with a disability myself and his work opened my mind to the many ways a disability affects people! Through the eyes of Isaac, I was able to see to how my disability affects a lot of people that I don’t really pay attention too.

The supporting roles are quite familiar as types for anyone with a disability. In the roles of Etta (played by Karen Landry), Seneca (Ansa Akyea), and Risky (Lada Vishtak), we see the people who are positive influences, trying to help. Unfortunately, there are the others, like Emin (Barzin Akha-van), Ekdahl (Raul Ramos), and B.J. (Nate Krantz), who are simply negative and use their disability to take advantage.

I would have to reiterate that “Vestibular Sense” was an astounding play with remarkable acting from all cast members! The play leaves you with a heart-wrenching, mind-awakening, soul-moving compassion that can lead to a greater understanding of life for anyone who is disabled. Not to close them in but to be open to life’s realities for them. I was deeply touched; I felt some tears and enjoyed a few laughs!

Thank you Ken LaZebnik for writing “Vestibular Sense,” an astonishing play for those of us who are disabled. Thank you Mixed Blood for a great array of cast members who were able to show us the complexities, both stark and subtle. As a person with a disability, I was moved; seeing the familiar in a new light and the possibilities in new ways. Once again, INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE!

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