Teenager Ros has been different all her life. Recently connecting to others on the autism spectrum, she decides to interview her mum and come out in her podcast. Reluctantly her mum Lydia agrees to be interviewed, but strongly rejects her daughter’s self-diagnosis. She describes a period from Ros’s childhood when she sought magical answers from an American educator and therapist.
Indigo Children by Hannah Silva explores a mistrust of conventional diagnosis and a misunderstanding of autism spectrum condition. It’s a modern fairy tale about a parent’s overwhelming need to do the best for her child. But in this case, it is the teenage child who decides what she needs – to be accepted as a young person on the autistic spectrum.
Ros is played by Lizzy Clark, an actor with asperger’s syndrome. She set up the campaign Don’t Play Me Pay Me to encourage disabled people to follow their own creative path.
Hannah Silva has written a number of dramas for radio including Marathon Tales co-written with Colin Teevan, Jump Blue, The Music Lesson and Solitary.
Director Jude Kelly has recently stepped down from 12 years as Artistic Director of the South Bank to devote herself to WOW – the Women of the World Festival she set up eight years ago. Indigo Children is her directorial debut for BBC Radio 4.
Writer: Hannah Silva
Sound Designer: Eloise Whitmore
Director: Jude Kelly
Producer: Melanie Harris
Exec Producer: Polly Thomas
A Sparklab production for BBC Radio 4.
Just had the great pleasure of sitting in on the read through for “Indigo Children” by Hannah Silva. It’s beautiful funny & touching. I’ve just stopped crying. I think this is going to resonate so strongly with many, many autistic people & their families. So proud of Liz. pic.twitter.com/j2hvhnZZkv
— Nicky Clark (@MrsNickyClark) July 11, 2018
Indigo Children, Hannah Silva’s play (also for Radio 4), raised questions about another difficult medical diagnosis: autism. Ros, who has her own podcast, Roscast, which is as chatty and self-revealing as many others, wants to ‘come out’ and reveal that she is autistic. Her mother Lydia is appalled. The play uses Ros’s story to talk about labels and what they mean. Are they helpful?
‘Why am I doing this?’ Ros asks.
‘Because I’m a millennial… I doubt my own existence.’
This play stood out because of the production, by Melanie Harris and Jude Kelly, the theatre director, who was directing her first play for radio. The cast (Lizzy Clark, Jaime Winstone and Sylvestra Le Touzel as a fake doctor who feeds off the anxieties of others) were vividly drawn (with some sharp dialogue) and distinctive; the sound design (by Eloise Whitmore) added rather than took away from what was being said. As Kelly says in her introduction to the broadcast: ‘When you don’t have the bodies there or anything to visualise, you really are concentrating on the lilt, the tone, the subtlety of the voice itself and all that the voice carries.’