Our first year of Seesaw (then known as Theatre Stands With Autism), we went underwater in Diving In. Last year, we explored the world of string in Strung Along. This year, I am honored and ecstatic to introduce our new theme, and our first theme as Seesaw Theatre: In the Game. Our talented ensemble and designers will explore computer games, video games, and board games. We will play together and discover the silliness, teamwork, and true joy that come from gaming.
When the idea to use games as a theme was first floated last year, it became the obvious choice almost immediately. Whenever we have gone to play with the students at Have Dreams, an after-school program for children on the Spectrum, they were bursting to tell us about their favorite games. Usually, it was Minecraft. And when we would play a game that one of the kids loved, there was no getting them to stop. That is the magic of games. They spark an interest in us, an inexplicable yet unbridled enthusiasm.
Since choosing In The Game, the theme, in my mind, has only become more right and fitting. Seesaw prides itself on creating beautiful and innovative theatre, but there is also a strong educational component to what we do, a component that is inherently filled by games. Good games—and the kinds of games you will see in Seesaw this year—encourage focus, energy, and a knack for problem-solving. In her TED talk on the benefit of online games, Jane McGonigal shares her psychological findings that gaming makes us more optimistic; helps us build trust with others; boosts our productivity; and gives us a sense of purpose. In other words, she says, playing games turns us into “super-empowered hopeful individuals.” What better way to leave a theatre space than to feel all of that?
Games provide us with so many skills and benefits, but at its core, a game’s sheer mission is to provide a structure for play. We are all united by the simple act of play. Play is in a joke. It’s in a smile. It’s in our hobbies and in our friendships. Our desire for play and our positive response to it connects every single human on Earth. Faces light up and connection is shared when we play. That connection is the same bond that makes Seesaw so powerful. The gift we give our audience is not only matched, but surpassed, by the energy and engagement we receive in return. All of this is to say that games are the great equalizer, and every year I have been with Seesaw, I have found myself amongst equals and friends. It doesn’t matter if you are in the cast, on the team, on the board, or in the audience. At the end of the day, all any of us really want to do is play.
On behalf of Seesaw theatre, I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you take this long weekend to eat delicious food and play with loved ones. It is probably the most valuable thing you can do on a holiday that is all about giving thanks and connecting with the ones we love.