Stag­ing young Quixote

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Mata­mata col­lege chose Quixote due to its em­pha­sis on so­cial strug­gles to­day’s youth face.

Mata­mata drama teacher Natalie Wright said they wanted to find a play which had a high school set­ting, was light hearted and funny with a se­ri­ous mes­sage about the dif­fi­cul­ties of stu­dent life.

The play fol­lows Alonzo (Don Quixote), a be­wil­dered high school mis­fit, who does not be­long to a par­tic­u­lar so­cial breed. Af­ter fail­ing to take his med­i­ca­tion Alonzo falls into a fan­tasy world es­cap­ing his prob­lems at high school and go­ing on a strange and crazy ad­ven­ture of self ex­plo­ration. Along the way Alonzo’s wild imag­i­na­tion be­comes the butt of cruel prac­ti­cal jokes.

He wins out in the end – his in­di­vid­u­al­ity trans­formed into a praise­wor­thy strength.

‘‘Teenagers are no strangers to these bul­ly­ing themes and the moral is sim­ply to be your­self,’’ said Ms Wright.

The cast of 45 drama stu­dents range from year 10 to 13.

The play is a con­densed ver­sion of the orig­i­nal novel and was writ­ten for the stage by play­wright Flip Cob­bler in 2009.

Doors open at 7pm and tick­ets are $ 10 at the door. Pho­tos: KA­T­RINA LINTONBON. Autism New Zealand’s Waikato Branch closed down last month due to a lack of fund­ing leav­ing 760 fam­i­lies with­out a much needed ser­vice.

Mata­mata alone has more than 10 fam­i­lies who use and rely on Autism Waikato pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion on so­cial skills and ac­tiv­i­ties, early in­ter­ven­tion, par­ent­ing and ed­u­ca­tion train­ing.

Mata­mata res­i­dent Karen Con­dell has a six-year-old daugh­ter with Autism and said the main concern is for fam­i­lies who have re­cently had a child di­ag­nosed with Autism or Asperger’s syn­drome be­cause the Waikato branch would have been their first port of call.

‘‘For fam­i­lies who have just had some­one di­ag­nosed, they were the first place to call be­cause they would or­gan­ise other or­gan­i­sa­tions to help in what­ever sit­u­a­tion you need.’’

Whether it was psy­chol­o­gists, doc­tors or sup­port groups that were needed – the Waikato Branch had some­one to rec­om­mend.

‘‘They were a bit like a phone book for Autism,’’ Ms Con­dell said.

Six paid staff have been left job­less and Autism NZ pres­i­dent Wendy Duff said the branch needs $250,000 a year to op­er­ate.

They had lost $16,000 and its 2011 loss was likely to be around $43,000.

Labour leader Phil Goff told the Waikato Times that he un­der­stood Autism New Zealand was no longer el­i­gi­ble for fund­ing from the Com­mu­nity Re­sponse Fund as autism was a health is­sue – not a so­cial ser­vice.

Al­though Ms Con­dell said she din’t use the ser­vice as much as she used to, it was still needed.

‘‘Autism is be­com­ing more and more known and now where do peo­ple go? This lim­its where they can go and who they can talk to.’’

Ms Con­dell said she would now be us­ing Par­ent to Par­ent and Al­to­gether Autism if she needs any help, both of which fo­cus on help­ing par­ents who have chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties.

She said she wouldl miss the fort­nightly news­let­ters sent out by Autism Waikato and read­ing about other autis­tic peo­ple’s lives and how they went about achiev­ing their goals. ‘‘It was re­ally help­ful and en­cour­ag­ing for us.’’

laura.mcleay@wrcn.co.nz

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