The Joanne and Ted Lindsay Foundation Autism Outreach Services (OUCARES) and the Oakland University Department of Theatre will present a virtual, staged reading of The Marriage Spectrum at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 on YouTube.
The play, written by OU Lecturer and Award-Winning Playwright Kitty Dubin and directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre David Gram, The Marriage Spectrum tells the story of Mike and Beth Rosen, who are thrilled when they find out Beth is pregnant, but as their son develops, they begin to realize Andy isn’t like other kids his age. When he’s six, a doctor confirms their fears.
“As Mike and Beth navigate what they each feel is best for Andy, a gulf opens up in their marriage,” Gram said. “The play is an intimate portrait from the parents’ perspective. It also offers recognizable insight into the emotional sacrifices we make for our children and the silent toll it can take on both ourselves and our loved ones.”
For Dubin, writing The Marriage Spectrum was a deeply personal experience. “I am the parent of an adult son on the autism spectrum,” she said. “During the years my son was growing up, I attended many autism conferences and read everything I could about raising a child with autism. But in all my reading and research, I never found anything that discussed the impact on a marriage of having a child on the spectrum.
“Every marriage goes through periods of stress,” Dubin added. “But for parents of a child on the spectrum, the stress can be unrelenting and place an incredible strain on a marriage. In a broader sense, the play is about any couple raising a child who is different in some way. I wanted to write a play about devoted and caring parents, who are not only trying their best to help their child succeed, but are also trying to keep their marriage together.”
The cast of The Marriage Spectrum includes:
- Michael Brian Ogden
- Alysia Kolascz
- Julia Glander
- Patrick Loos
After the play reading, there will be a live Q&A with Dubin, as well as faculty and staff members from the OU Center for Autism, including Jan Graetz, Nick Lauer, and Kristin Rohrbeck.
“When I found out that Kitty was writing The Marriage Spectrum, I was glad to hear that a playwright was not afraid to tackle the difficult topics that parents face dealing with raising a child with autism,” said Rohrbeck, director of OUCARES. “There are often many strains in marriages that stem from having children with special needs, and I hope that parents of children with autism embrace this play for its honesty in dealing with these subjects.
“The more depictions of individuals impacted by autism that we see, as we do in this play, the more we break down the stigmas associated with having a loved one with autism,” Rohrbeck added. “I hope people gain an understanding from this play of the intricate ways that autism impacts an entire family unit, and that we begin to offer more support to families impacted by autism in our communities.”
While admission to the virtual, staged reading of The Marriage Spectrum is free, donations are encouraged to the Oakland University Center for Autism and the OU Department of Theatre. To register, visit The Marriage Spectrum.