MBU Theatre Explores Hardships of Family Affected by Autism in ‘Falling’

What does a family go through when autism enters the picture? Affecting one in 68 children, autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the nation.

In the MBU Theatre Department’s first production of the season, “Falling” will tackle this topic on how a family learns to maintain balance through the struggles of having a child with a disability through compassion, support and understanding.

Whether personally connected to the storyline or not, director Kasey Cox (’10) said the play challenges not only our perspective on autism, but also our assumptions about how we wield our faith. She also said she is grateful for the opportunity to present a show that deals with intense and uncomfortable subject matter.

In order to prepare and develop the characters realistically, experts came in to work with the cast to help them better understand autism.

Andrea Mossman plays Lisa, the sister of an autistic young man, Josh. Mossman is a senior Psychology and Theatre double major. In an interview, she explained her difficulty with getting into the character was that she (Lisa) seemed spoiled. However, Mossman realized that “[t]he way Lisa has grown up has caused her to be very vocal about what she wants, otherwise she doesn’t get heard. There really are families like the Martin’s out there in the world. Their stories deserve to be heard and their truths deserve to be spoken.”

“In the end, it’s all about telling stories about real people and being sure that you are portraying them as real people,” Cox said. “Not saints or heroes or martyrs, but real people who are trying to make sense of an impossibly difficult situation.”

“Falling” was created and first performed in St. Louis by Mustard Seed Theatre in 2011. Written by Fontbonne University professor Deanna Jent, the Mustard Seed founder is also a mother with a severely autistic son. The play resonated well with both locals and the critics. After capturing the attention of a St. Louis native, the play went on to become an Off-Broadway production in New York City. This will be MBU Theatre’s first show by a St. Louis native other than last year’s “Cover,” a play written by MBU Theatre Director Joy Powell about sex trafficking.

To coincide with the theme of the play, MBU’s art gallery is currently showcasing the works of local artists with developmental disabilities. These art pieces were created through Achievements Unlimited, an organization dedicated to providing a therapeutic approach that blends the fields of behavior and interaction skills. Currently on display through September in the Pillsbury Chapel and Dale Williams Fine Arts Center, the artwork will also be available for purchase.

Showtimes & Ticket Pricing
Sept. 3-5 at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6 at 2 p.m.

The Pillsbury Chapel and Dale Williams Fine Arts Center
Missouri Baptist University

$10 – General Admission
$8 – Seniors(65+)/Non-MBU Students
$7.50 – MBU Faculty and Staff
$2.50 – MBU Students (2 tickets per valid ID)

For tickets or more information, contact the MBU Box Office (314) 392-2345. Tickets can also be purchased in advance at mbuboxoffice.com.