Kwinana Courier - - Workplace / Community Classifieds - Sara Fitz­patrick

THE cir­cus is com­ing to town but don’t ex­pect fear­less fire eaters and leap­ing li­ons.

This heart­felt per­for­mance re­veals the ev­ery­day chaos and beauty of a child with Asperger’s syn­drome.

Bris­bane teen Ethan Hugh takes cen­tre stage in Kalei­do­scope as six per­form­ers jour­ney by his side of­fer­ing guid­ance.

Di­ag­nosed with the de­vel­op­men­tal dis­or­der at four, Ethan be­lieves Asperger’s is feared and mis­con­strued.

“It’s one of those syn­dromes where you can ei­ther mis­un­der­stand it or you can turn it into some­thing re­ally good,” the 14-year-old said.

“Peo­ple nor­mally think of the stress that’s in­volved with car­ing for some­body with Asperger’s but I think they should see it for its quirks and dif­fer­ences – some­thing to be en­joyed rather than stressed over.”

The nar­ra­tive of the cir­cus comes from a book of short sto­ries penned by Ethan’s mother, Joanna Whar­ton.

She be­gan writ­ing anec­dotes when Ethan was young and one story quickly turned into many.

“Ethan was nine and wasn’t con­nect­ing any­where and then sud­denly he con­nected to cir­cus,” Whar­ton said.

“I had this col­lec­tion of sto­ries that I’d writ­ten about him that as thanks I gave to his school and they fell into the hands of one of Aus­tralia’s best cir­cus di­rec­tors, Chelsea McGuf­fin, and she was in­spired to then trans­late them on stage and use Ethan as him­self.

“This is con­tem­po­rary cir­cus, it’s very lyri­cal and po­etic: it tells a story through the var­i­ous forms of cir­cus and cel­e­brates the fact we’re all unique and see things in dif­fer­ent ways.”

Ethan said per­form­ing gave him a sense of free­dom.

“A lot of the stuff in my life at the time I dis­cov­ered cir­cus was re­ally strict and with cir­cus I could just play around with learn­ing things and at that time I needed some­thing like that,” he said.

“It’s a lit­tle bit in­tim­i­dat­ing but when you’re on stage you don’t re­ally think about it and I have a lot of fun. I’m hop­ing that after peo­ple watch this show they see Asperger’s in a dif­fer­ent light, from a dif­fer­ent point of view, and in a pos­i­tive way.”

Ethan Hugh in Kalei­do­scope.

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