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Drizzle Boy play a first for neurodiversity in theatre

Playwright Ryan Enniss was in his third year of drama school when he came across an article about a miracle cure for children with autism, which contained bleach.

"My reaction was mostly just blinding rage and complete bafflement, so I just sort of started doing the only thing that I really know how to do," the 25-year-old told AAP.

Enniss, who has autism, began telling a story, which has become the award-winning play Drizzle Boy.

It's the first time a neurodivergent character has been written by a neurodivergent playwright and portrayed by an actor with lived experience on Australia's main stage, according to Queensland Theatre where the show has just premiered.

"I just hope that people who come and see the show have fun, it's a wild and entertaining ride through a lens that maybe audiences haven't seen before," Enniss said.

The coming-of-age tale blends magical realism with a romantic sub-plot - and it's billed as a theatrical cold shower in the world of neurodiversity.

Enniss hopes the production leads to more opportunities for people like him, and has stipulated in the script that the lead should be played by an actor with lived experience.

In this production, that's Daniel R Nixon, who told AAP he felt a strong connection to the script when he first read it.

"I just loved how it wasn't skirting around the edges, it was sort of raw and in your face, very upfront about the subject matter," he said.

The 28-year-old actor said film and television about neurodiversity is usually scripted and acted by neurotypical people, resulting in work that is misplaced or out of touch.

Nixon said his neurodivergence shaped his childhood and his relationships with his family, and for years he suppressed the idea that he might be different.

"I tried so hard just to act, quote unquote, normal around people and it was really tricky for me, social interactions are to this day still very intimidating and uncomfortable for me."

He believes anyone wanting to make authentic theatre about neurodiversity should use writers and actors with lived experience as well as organising wide consultation, and he wants to see more state theatre companies doing this.

But playwright Enniss acknowledged this approach would prove more challenging for some theatre companies than others, and said there would always be some tension between authenticity and creative licence when telling stories onstage.

"We are all free to imagine and dream, but representation is one of the most powerful things that artists have available to them, because it gives audience members hope and inspiration," he said.

"If you don't use hope and inspiration responsibly, you are maybe not taking your job as seriously as perhaps you should."

Drizzle Boy is the winner of the Queensland Premier's Drama Award for 2022-23, and is on at the Bille Brown Theatre in Brisbane until March 28.