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Rogue Show Preview: Inside My Different Way of Thinking

IN THE February 20 ISSUE

FROM THE 2019 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment
SECTIONS

by Cody Clark

The Rogue Festival will be here soon-it opens on March 1! Here is another Rogue Performer Preview article, with more going up today as well, and more coming this weekend, and all the way up to Rogue!-you will be able to find them all in our Arts & Entertainment section. We also have a Rogue Festival event page with many of their press releases, and an article about this year’s Muse.

I’m a professional magician who loves classic country music, trains, theatre, traveling, and my friends. Also, I’m on the autism spectrum. I was diagnosed at fifteen months young after my parents noticed I quit responding to my name. They took me to the doctor and learned that I was autistic. The prognosis was grim. They were told that I would never be married, have children, hold down a job or, worst of all, ever tell my parents I loved them. They were saddened, but didn’t make any assumptions based on those words. I was placed in speech/occupational therapies at the University of Louisville Autism Center, which worked hard to ensure that I could be mainstreamed at school.

rogue festival

Cody Clark

Because my parents struck the perfect balance between giving me neurotypical experiences while not forcing me to act neurotypical myself, I was exposed to a lot of formative influences and allowed to be as obsessed with them as I desired. One of autism’s most well-known traits is an autistic’s tendency to fixate on selected interests. My earliest fixations involved the performing arts, but I had a hard time finding where my talents lay. I couldn’t sing, couldn’t dance, didn’t know where to learn acting, yet I still wanted to be on stage. It took a family vacation to Gulf Shores for me to discover the art of magic.

Magician Bart Rockett converted a Gulf Shores strip mall into a tourist magic theatre. I begged my family to go and at the show, Bart called me up on stage. He knew exactly how to bring out my charm, fed me plenty of jokes, and allowed me to push the blade down in his version of “sawing a lady in half.” This was the first time in my life that I felt like a star and I wanted more of it. I bought Bart’s “sock of magic” magic kit and learned my first magic tricks while we were still on vacation. I joined the Louisville Magic Club when I got home to learn more tricks, gained my first stage time at the Comedy Caravan’s Monday magic nights, and was well on my way to becoming a professional magician.

I hit a few roadblocks when I entered college, however. The routines that worked for me as a younger magician no longer had the same impact on audiences. My skill set had fallen behind and personally, I was discovering what it really means to be autistic as an adult. All this culminated in my application to the 2013 Slant Culture Theatre Festival being rejected. The festival director told me my script was nothing she hadn’t heard before and that my tricks weren’t deceptive enough, but that I could apply again next year if I improved my magic and wrote a script that was personal to me. That’s when my mentor Richard Ribuffo Jr. shared the old actors adage that “There are no secrets on stage.” In my context, he said that among other issues, my audiences might not know what to make of my autistic quirks. But if I can beat them to the punch by mentioning my autism first, I can bring them on my side. He intended that advice to be for just one routine, but I took it one step further and decided to apply to the 2014 Slant Culture Theatre Festival with an entire show about being autistic. My application was accepted and my new show A Different Way of Thinking was one of the festival’s biggest hits!

I’m proud that five years later, I’m still touring with this show. I think it works because my magic effects illustrate how my brain perceives things differently from a neurotypical person. This gives me a firm reason for it to be a magic show rather than a pure solo show. It also works equally well for neurotypical audiences and neurodiverse audiences. Neurotypical audiences like seeing how I think differently, yet desire the same things in life that they do. And my fellow neurodiverse friends can directly relate to my struggles. Both my neurotypical and neurodiverse audience members have taught me a lot about the importance of being openly autistic. All I feel I’ve done is share my story, yet my consistently high ticket sales at fringe festivals and national press about this show have revealed to me that it’s a story that’s sorely been needed. It is an honor to kick off the 5th anniversary tour of A Different Way of Thinking at Fresno’s Rogue Festival, and I hope to see you there!

Cody’s performances will be at The Revue, located on 626 E Olive Ave. His performance times are Sat. March 2 at 2 p.m., Sun. March 3 at 3:30 p.m., Thur. March 7 at 7 p.m., Fri. March 8 at 8:30 p.m., and Sat. March 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $12 with the one time purchase of a $3 festival wristband. Both can be purchased at www.fresnoroguefestival.com or at any of the festival’s box offices. Multi-show passes are also available. For more information about Cody, you can go to www.codyclarkmagic.com or any of Cody’s social media pages.

If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. The first 13 episodes are now up! You can check the podcast out on iTunes and Google Play, and also on podbean.

If you are a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan check out Nicholas Brendon’s (Xander) Meet and Greet Tour!
buffy

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