My name is Matteo Esposito. I’m am a playwright with autism. I live in a beautiful country called Canada and am the oldest of 4 children.
My theatre journey started many moons ago with a show called the jersey boys. I was enthralled by the first time I saw it and I loved every minute of it. At the time, jersey boys became a once-in-a-lifetime experience because I got to meet actor jJeff madden. He played Frankie Valli. Now he became a true inspiration to me.
As everyone in Jersey Boys knows the real Frankie Valli has to approve of the actors who portray him. Now Jeff did meet the real Frankie and he told Jeff to believe in himself and there’s nothing he can do.
Now I got to meet Jeff at my elementary school. I remember writing him a fan letter that was about one page long. You know how sometimes actors like to write back to you. Well Jeff, took it the extra mile by coming to visit me at my school. The experience lasted for about 5-10 min but it was an experience ill never forget! And you know what, the exact words that Frankie Valli told him he passed along to me!
Fast forward a few years later and Sheridan college became my best bet to go to school. Jeff was also a facility member of the musical theatre department at Sheridan. In my hometown of Oakville, the musical come from away got its start at the same college where I’m at right now. But it wasn’t easy to get in. As an autistic person, I had to use the words that Jeff told me to become successful.
For me to get in, I had no choice but to go back to school and do my gr. Twelve college English. It was a daunting task but the rewards were great because I got in! It was a testament to see the words that Jeff had said and I took them to heart. Now I get to study tech theatre at the college that I always wanted to go to.
Now, let’s get to playwrighting, shall we?
Being a playwright, I need to constantly invent myself both on the page and on the stage!
Some plays hide behind comedy and/or tragedy. But the idea for my play sorting it out is to expose the truth.
Not hide from it.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, what goes around comes around and words matter all feature in my play.
As I was writing this piece, it became clear to me: how as a playwright with autism can create a sort of uncomfortable experience in the theatre?
Using dialogue, research, and my abilities to create it, not to mention personal experiences, I created a tale that was both moving and thrilling!
The day came to perform it live and one of the actors who was supposed to play nick had to cancel out a few days before. The play had to go on.
But who would play Nick?
A handsome guy who wrote sorting it out….myself.
And it worked!!
Not only did my writing speak to an audience of theatre-goers, but the critics said some interesting things too.
One critic said: “Matteo is physically and philocaly challenged, he knows whereof he writes.”
Another said: “Great theatre should make the audience feel uncomfortable and confront difficult questions, before leaving them with a gut-punching message. Matteo Esposito’s powerful play Sorting It Out does all of that in the span of thirty minutes.”
That’s a testament to the power of my work and not to mention the story.
As a playwright on the spectrum, my unique perspective gives audience after audience something to think about.
Maybe some who watched my play or heard my story may be inspired to go for it too.
I always like to tell the story of opening my live performance with my play.
A dad asked his autistic son if he liked the show. He said: No.
And the dad knew exactly what he meant by it. He did not like how one of the characters treated the autistic character on stage.
That to me made my heart leap. It’s the power of the dialogue and the way the characters are written that make the play.
As you can tell by now, it is an actor’s play!
Just a couple of years ago a few productions happened with my play.
Sorting it out played two performances with a theatre group called burloak theatre and then it made its USA premiere in Richmond Virginia!
Again, these opportunities don’t come for free you know, you have to get your work out there even with a disability.
Writing with a disability makes me happy because I get to show an audience a unique perspective on life.
And one things for sure, the bright light of off-off broadway happened with my play as well. I was part of an online off off broadway festival for one night only.
But that’s not all, many other theatre groups and companies want to take this story on.
But was I scared to write a play about a disability? Of course, I was! It’s a highly charged subject matter.
But as a playwright, you need to be diverse and open to writing in different styles.
Not just one type but all types.
As a playwright, my work not only speaks volumes about what in the world is there to speak about but, also the fact that diversity is key. I can’t just write around one topic or writing style. That would be too easy, but as a playwright, I need to challenge myself to create moments in theatre that
Reflect on our society and have a little fun as well.
For Sorting It Out, the dialogue is sharp, brutally honest, and pulls no punches.
For my children’s play, Moonchild, it was based on a two minute poem by G. Brian Benson. The play is about a young boy with ASD who wants to become a painter. With the help of the moon and his belief in himself, he does!
Two very different styles.
But the common goal for me as a playwright is to create an experience that is memorable and exciting but also education is key.
Educating people becomes a valuable tool in terms of writing and not only was sorting it out educational it provides a few messages to the audience.
Not to mention and entertaining and enjoyable evening at the theatre.
As we draw near my blog for today, I want to leave you with a lyric from one of my original songs: believe or not believe it or not you can do anything. Believe it or not, believe it or not, the world needs what you can bring so sing it out load raise your head up, and be proud of who you are.
The main thing is that we can do anything if we put our minds to it and I’m living proof of that!
Matteo Esposito is an autistic playwright and set designer from Canada. His plays have been performed throughout North America. He lives Ontario Canada and attends Sheridan college for tech theatre.