For years Sophie Smyth kept her Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis a secret.
Now it’s exactly the opposite – she’s put it on stage for all to see.
Ms Smyth and fellow ‘Aspie’ Ryan Smedley wrote a cabaret show about their experiences and navigating everyday life with Asperger’s Syndrome through their joint love of musical theatre.
The Aspie Hour had its world premiere at the Ballarat Cabaret Festival on Saturday, playing to an appreciative audience.
In The Aspie Hour, Mr Smedley shares memories of his solo journey to New York and travelling on your own, while Ms Smyth collects replica film outfits and frames her life as a musical to explore her psychological issues.
Together they misread social cues, recall obscure musical theatre facts, debunk myths about Asperger’s and redefine what it is to be an Aspie.
Talking openly about Asperger’s Syndrome has taken some getting used to for Ms Smyth, who until last year had told no one about the diagnosis she received aged 13.
“Ryan and I both studied at Fed Uni’s Arts Academy and in third year one of the components is creating a 10 minute cabaret act,” she said.
“It was only last year when I did this cabaret that I decided to talk about it. I went in to my first cabaret meeting and within about a minute I just said ‘I have Asperger’s, I don’t tell people, I think I should and I should because I think it will help them understand me’.”
Ms Smyth had feared her friends “would decide that I was too weird and ditch me”, but the opposite was true.
”Surprisingly I made a lot better connections with my friends and everyone I know because it’s opened the conversation.”
Explaining and destigmatising Asperger’s has been a byproduct of The Aspie Hour in which she appears as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
“I’m not really aware of a lot of other people in our industry that are on the spectrum. I’m sure they exist but we don’t know anyone else so we thought we could start a conversation about it and raise awareness.
“We want to entertain, but also to raise awareness of the spectrum and show people we can laugh at ourselves and have a good time and sometimes it’s really hard but sometimes it’s a good thing as well.
“Ultimately we want to show it’s a superpower rather than a fault in the way we were born.”