“On the Spectrum” up for award

Samuel Linder

Ken Lazebnik's original work "On the Spectrum" premiered at the Mixed Blood Theatre on November 11th, and A&E was there to cover it. Apparently we're a good luck charm, because the play is now in the running for $25,000 of sweet, sweet cash.

The six finalists for the Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award were announced yesterday, and Lazebnik's play sure showed up on THEIR spectrum!!! (please don't hurt me, I couldn't help it) The Award is given out every year for the best scripts that premiered outside of New York, and comes with a purse that no artist would turn down (except maybe Jay-Z. I don't think he accepts anything under a hundred grand anymore). Congratulations to Mr. Lazebnik and Mixed Blood.

The play was a love story featuring two young protagonists on the Autism spectrum, one higher functioning and one lower. They fall for each other over a backdrop of fast-paced city living and parental uncertainty, and the results were very "awwwwwwwwwww" inspiring. Love between folks "on the spectrum" is a little-breached subject (here is cool story on it published just after the play came out), and Lazebnik handled it fairly well.

However, I am personally am a little intrigued by this selection- I didn't think it was that great of a script. Now don't get me wrong, there were beautiful moments, and it told a story that has been hidden for too long. But I don't really care which story you're telling if you're doing so without subtelty and depth. The jokes were blunt and obvious, the love story too many times seen before. Perhaps a play about autism had to be more socially direct, but I felt unfulfilled by it.

Mimi Steinberg and co. apparently did not.

And, to be honest, putting money into the hands of hard-working artist folk is pretty much good no matter what. Lazebnik worked hard to create something new and vital in this age of shifting Civil Rights questions, worked hard to bring deep issues to light. Mixed Blood theater constantly works hard to bring works of equality to the people. So let's raise a toast to the hard workers, and then ask the next person jumpin' on the subject to spruce it up a bit.