Second Studio to shine a light on neurodivergency with “Light Switch”

Southern Utah University’s student-led theatre company will be holding their second and final production of the fall semester. “Light Switch,” written by Dave Osmundsen and directed by Susannah Pilkington, will be performed in the Black Box Theatre in the Auditorium Building.

There will be an academia-themed opening night gala following Thursday’s performance in the Auditorium lobby.

“Light Switch” follows Henry, a gay autistic man, as he navigates his relationships and how his autism impacts them. The show focuses on themes of love, trust, acceptance and forgiveness.

“The first time that I read ‘Light Switch,’ it was the first time I felt like my identity was shown in media in a way that felt true,” said Pilkington, who is autistic. 

Themes of queerness and neurodiversity are often mishandled in media, so Pilkington held presentations for the cast to learn as much as they could about autism and how to accurately represent it.

“There’s a lot of stigma to what an autistic person is, and that often is not the case,” said Tanner Strong, who plays Joseph in the show. “You’re often looking at a very extreme point of view.”

Additionally, having a team behind the show that could accurately portray autism was a high priority.

“We’ve got a very neurodiverse team to work on this show,” said stage manager Thompson MacKenzie Scribner. “Nobody came into this show thinking, ‘I know everything there is to know about this subject, and I’m going to do it my way.’ Everyone was open to thoughts and ideas and understanding that there is a learning curve with these subjects.”

“Light Switch” is being staged in part to bring awareness to neurodivergency, causing the rehearsal process to be more intense. 

“It’s been challenging because of the content and the character, but it’s a story that I think is very important. It needs to be shared,” expressed Matthew Wangemann, who plays Henry. “Ultimately, it’s about acceptance and awareness for how everybody experiences life and having grace for other people.”

The show was originally scheduled to take place in November, but due to one of the lead actors testing positive for COVID-19, the team decided to pursue a postponement, which meant both extending the rights to perform the show and rebooking the spaces with the theatre department.

“We did make arrangements to be able to stage the show as scheduled. But we were worried that the integrity of the show might be compromised, having to put an understudy in for this very major role in the show,” said Scribner.

The request to extend rights for the show was granted in part because Second Studio’s “Light Switch” is only the third time the show has ever been produced.

Light Switch will be performing Dec. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance Dec. 3 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets cost $5. For more information, follow Second Studio on Instagram.

Article by: Tessa Cheshire
Photos courtesy of Second Studio