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Daniel Toney and Zailyn Cuevas - Mine or Unapologetically Autistic Interview

MINE or Unapologetically Autistic is back on stage for ONE NIGHT ONLY! This is a new one-man show is coming up about life in the middle of the autistic spectrum.

The show, presented by actor Daniel Toney, sheds light on what it's like growing up with autism and what it means to be on the spectrum in the twenty-first century. Daniel, who was diagnosed at an early age, aims to break the taboo around autism and showcase how it can be portrayed without fear.

The show takes the audience on a journey through life on the spectrum and invites them to laugh at the curve balls that autism throws your way, from getting a diagnosis to coping in social situations. With loose anecdotes and observations about autism, Daniel presents an honest yet humorous depiction of autism, making it possible to talk and even joke about it without causing offence.

The show not only increases the representation of neurodiversity but also inspires those on the spectrum to tell their stories. The writer and performer being neurodiverse, adds more authenticity to the show. This one-night-only show will be presented at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden with two presentations on Sunday, October 22nd at 5:00 pm & 7:00 PM.

Ahead of the performances we caught up with writer and performer Daniel Toney and director Zailyn Cuevas to discuss the show.

What first inspired the piece?
DANIEL: I knew I wanted to have a go at writing something, but wasn’t sure what about at the time. Initially when considering my experiences about being on the spectrum, I thought back to my time at acting school, when I started to feel at ease about my neurotype and talk more openly about it with friends, often in a humorous way, and realised that not much was really being talked about in terms of there being a blunt, humorous conversation about what it means to be autistic. The next stage involved me looking back on my own upbringing and my own experiences and thinking “how can I put a bit of a humorous twist on this bit?”, while also bringing to light some of the more serious aspects about how it feels to be on the spectrum. I’m inviting the audience to laugh along with my experiences, while also making light of the treatment of autism up to now. Essentially saying “I have it, I’m laughing about it, and I’m inviting you to do the same”

How have you approached putting autism into a stage production?
ZAILYN: I managed to stage this show as a journey, creating stages of life on stage by dividing the stage into zones. I created visual levels on stage to symbolise the author’s journey from being a child all the way to where he is now as an adult. I wanted to reflect the loneliness people with autism can sometimes face in their lives with a minimalistic approach, by leaving the stage bare in order for the audience to focus on just the performer to create this isolated atmosphere. In order to understand the mindset of the author, I did extensive research on autism and consulted heavily with him and his experiences because my main goal was to showcase the autistic experience for those who identify as neurodiverse and tell their story fairly.

What have been the biggest challenges in staging the production?
ZAILYN: In the lead-up to our previous run, we initially struggled to find a rehearsal space and even had a bit of a verbal altercation with a neighbour because we were rehearsing in the author’s back garden. Also, because aspects of the show are based on moments of the performer’s life, the biggest challenge was getting him to entrust me with helping him tell his story. After a time, the performer understood my vision and let go lightly. The show got brilliant audience feedback on the Camden Fringe run. We hope to get even better feedback this time as we are working to get better in each run.

How do you believe the show can help fellow people with autism or offer an insight to those who don't have it?
DANIEL: Because of the period when I first got my diagnosis (late 90’s/early 2000’s), there was a certain lack of sympathy and understanding for those who were autistic and far less measure of care for those who required it. My show makes light of this through my own experiences and reminds the audience of how autism was treated by organisations and within social situations before it started to be taken seriously. For those on the spectrum, my hope is that my show inspires others to feel confident to tell their stories through a medium that they feel comfortable with. For those who are neurotypical, it gives a little more of an insight as to how far treatment of those on the spectrum have come, and reassures them that autism doesn’t have to be a massively taboo subject and it’s possible to have a laugh about it socially when appropriate. Additionally, it would help to show neurotypical audience members that there is no one type of autism or stereotyped autism as you’d see in Rainman and other forms of media, which I think had been almost ingrained into the way the world sees autism at the moment.

What keeps you inspired as a creative?
DANIEL: I think that a lot of new projects are coming about through a degree of fearlessness. You have to be pretty fearless to be able to talk about your own experiences in this way. Also, I think that the reality that life is more interesting that you realise. I’ve also started writing other things based on experiences I’ve had: a tv script about a house in Liverpool and another play about long-distance relationships during COVID, both unfinished. The way everybody sees the world can be different, and sometimes you need a different perspective to bring something new to the table.

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing the show?
DANIEL: It’s my hope that the audience leave the show with a bit more understanding about a different side to autism, while also having more empathy for autistic experiences. For those on the spectrum, I wish for them to leave the show feeling like they’ve been heard and feeling like they’ve seen things they can relate to in their own lives, and share their honest thoughts about the production with others who identify as neurodiverse.

MINE or Unapologetically Autistic plays at the Etcetera Theatre on Sunday 22nd October at 5pm and 7pm. Tickets are available from

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