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AIBU to try to talk my ds out of auditioning for a female role in school play?

(288 Posts)
obligations Wed 21-Mar-18 10:43:51

My ds (11) loves acting, and has an asd which partly means he can get very stuck on an idea and find it hard to move on to make his own life easier.
His school will be putting on a summer play and the lead role is a female one - he is adamant he wants to audition for that role, although some pretty big parts are more obviously male, he says it would be sexist if he wasn't allowed go for the female part and really wants to. I explained his classmates might laugh at him but he says they shouldn't.
The problem is that he gets upset if he feels ridiculed and I had a word with his teacher to advise her that he might get upset if he gets laughed at and she has asked me to try to talk him out of it as there are 'social norms' that he should understand.
So I'm dreading having to tackle it but for him to have an easier time I really think I should. BTW he has never said he feels female, he just wants this role. Anyone got any advice on how best to approach this?

whyohwhy111 Wed 21-Mar-18 10:46:03

Yes, YABU. Things have changed, let him play who he wants. It's disgusting that the school has responded like that. Kids need to be better educated. Thought things like this changed following from Hairspray etc. but obviously not!

xyla589 Wed 21-Mar-18 10:48:12

I would just explain that some years, the lead role is for a girl, and in other years, it's for a boy.

You could help him find some other really good roles that are for boys.

RestingBitchFaced Wed 21-Mar-18 10:48:20

YABU, I would let him get on with it. And he has a good point

Iamagreyhoundhearmeroar Wed 21-Mar-18 10:49:21

If he auditions and is best for the role, presumably they'll give it to him. They won't give it to him just because he wants it...
Just don't do a big discrimination drama if he doesn't get it <shrug>

Soubriquet Wed 21-Mar-18 10:51:04

Let him do it. He will either get offered the part or he won't

jaseyraex Wed 21-Mar-18 10:53:23

YABU. Your DS sounds lovely and very sensible and he makes a very good point. Roles were always mismatched when I was at school. One of the boys played Rizo in our production of Grease because none of the girls played her "right". As long as he's aware that he might not get it, just let him have fun and go for it. Think how happy he'd be if he got the part!

KatnissK Wed 21-Mar-18 11:04:29

I'd let him audition. If the school is that concerned about 'social norms' they won't cast him (in that role anyway) but at least he will have given it a shot.

obligations Wed 21-Mar-18 11:07:43

So the issue is that his classmates are likely to laugh if he even auditions (the auditions are in front of the whole class), ds is likely to have a major meltdown when that happens and be further alienated. As I explained, the teacher has said she will be following 'social norms', so he will not get it.
Iamagreyhoundhearmeroar 'big discrimination drama' wtf? there's no shrug involved, see above and if you had ever been in a situation like this I don't think you'd be so dismissive.

BarbarianMum Wed 21-Mar-18 11:16:54

All you can do is warn him of the likely outcomes of him auditioning. Fwiw he's right, he shouldn't be ridiculed. But if he is then maybe help him find strategies for dealing with it.

Trying to find the line bw not wanting him to stand out and encouraging him to be proud of who he is is a difficult one, so sympathies.

Barbastelle Wed 21-Mar-18 11:21:05

I feel sorry for your DS in this, he shouldn't be discouraged if he's got his heart set on something. What social norms? In a play, you play a part - in Greek plays, all of the parts were played by men, regardless of the character's gender. Does the school also expect a real donkey in the nativity? I've played male roles before, and boys in my school played female roles as well, there was never any issue. I really think that saying certain roles can only be portrayed by certain people goes against the self-expression of theatre, and of art in general.

wanderings Wed 21-Mar-18 11:21:53

I would make sure to warn him that he might be ridiculed; ask him to imagine it happening, and to think to himself, could he handle it?

In life, you have to take risks (safe ones of course), so this could be a useful lesson in that. People have warned him he might be ridiculed, he can see for himself what happens if he goes ahead anyway. If he gets it, and does it well, then great. If he doesn't get the part, which many people think is likely to happen, that might be the best way for him to "make peace" with the issue. Whereas if he doesn't even try, he might later be blaming himself.

Think of the person who says "I might not get the job, I might be laughed out of the interview, so I won't bother applying".

I do think an important life lesson can be "do it, even if it feels scary" (within reason and safety, of course). In life, you have to take

wanderings Wed 21-Mar-18 11:22:39

(Oops, didn't see that unfinished paragraph was there)

SundayGirls Wed 21-Mar-18 11:23:09

I'm really split on this.

You're his parent and you don't feel it's right for him (and you are his advocate) due to his ASD. I think it's completely different to (for example) a confident NT child who is fully aware of what they are doing on a par with their other NT classmates, and still want to go ahead anyway.

From what you say, your ASD DS doesn't or won't clearly understand the "social norms" so he's not making a fully informed decision about auditioning and any possible adverse reaction he will get from classmates.

ON the other hand, by now wouldn't his classmates be used to any differences he presents in terms of thinking outside social norms and take it in their stride? Also could not the teacher prepare the class by saying anyone (boy or girl) can apply for any role and in other traditional theatre roles, male parts are played by females and vice versa? Also that she will be choosing the best person for the role regardless of gender match? That might help smooth the way. However it sounds like the teacher would prefer to use it as an opportunity to demonstrate social norms and that is also useful to your DS maybe in particular, if you feel he doesn't fully understand those and all the implications. For example if he encounters other "male" and "female' spaces which are segregated. It might be a little confusing when it seems other male and female roles can apparently be interchangeable.

obligations Wed 21-Mar-18 11:23:27

BarbarianMum thank you - I think it is easy on a forum like this for everyone to recommend a child just being let to be themselves, but when that opens a vulnerable child to ridicule that then really upsets them it is hard to know what to do. Not every 11 year old is so resilient that they can put up with being laughed at. There is often a high price to pay for not conforming.

Whatififall Wed 21-Mar-18 11:24:03

While I think he should be allowed to audition I understand that you’re worried that he’ll be ridiculed and the teacher does not support it so it might be best to encourage him to audition for another part.
I would show him different versions of the play online, explain that yes he should be able to have a go but this a typically female role, look at all these great women playing it but also look at the great men playing the supporting role. Try for one of those.
Or just let him go for it. Prop him up and help him prepare. Be there for him when his teacher sticks to societal norms. Explain he was brave for trying, would have made a wonderful whatever part it is but it’s not to be this time. Ignore the rest of the class.

Frakka Wed 21-Mar-18 11:27:59

He’s the one who sounds sexist. Or at least a selfish arse who can’t let a girl have the lead role without making a fuss.

xyla589 Wed 21-Mar-18 11:30:40

You need to explain to him that this year, the lead role is for a girl.

Try and explain to him that in professional theatre, the role of Hamlet is always played by a man, while the role of Portia would always be played by a woman.

If he likes acting, try selling it to him as what the professionals do.

(Obviously some roles are written to be played by the other gender, but I very much doubt this one is)

obligations Wed 21-Mar-18 11:31:46

Barbastelle yes, his heart is very set on it. There's a lot of singing involved in the role and (objectively speaking, honest) he is a really good singer and maybe even best in his class (he was a chorister for a few years).
I think at the core of it he feels it is unfair - I've had a chat with him and he has explained that when he plays sports, he isn't usually a bad loser and that when he gets upset it is if he feels something is unfair (people laughing at him, sexism etc). So it is a tricky one as he is sort of being pretty rational about it. I'm a tiny bit annoyed that the teacher has asked me to talk him out of auditioning, she has had words with me before about him not always conforming and doesn't seem that sympathetic to him.

aprilanne Wed 21-Mar-18 11:34:47

op i have an 18 year old son with asd .i am sorry but i would not set him up for a fall like this it will be just to much for the teacher to handle infront of whole class if they start laughing .i would set up a meeting with just you him and teacher and both tell him its not appropriate and if he has a melt down its not in front of class .he needs to understand there are social norms that are just not debatable but thats life .believe me i have had some debates over why couldnt he go with his build a bear in there front carrier to school at age 11 .why could he not wear his pink spongebob jammies and house coat to school pj party .

obligations Wed 21-Mar-18 11:35:34

* He’s the one who sounds sexist. Or at least a selfish arse who can’t let a girl have the lead role without making a fuss.*

What a stupid, nasty thing to say. No, he wants the chance to audition and has a condition that makes it difficult for him to regulate his emotions and as his parent I want him to not walk himself into a situation that he's likely to find hard to handle.

EllieMe Wed 21-Mar-18 11:39:01

I think at the core of it he feels it is unfair

But it isn't unfair, it's a female role. Spell it out for him. He won't get the role and his friends will laugh if he tries.

Tinkobell Wed 21-Mar-18 11:41:02

Yes. Wind your kneck in and let him follow his own desires!

Frakka Wed 21-Mar-18 11:41:16

If he’s so concerned about things being ‘fair’ I think it’s time you had a chat with him about female representation. Ask him how many roles in this play there are for boys, and how many for girls. Ask how many plays/films/books he has seen which have male leads and majority male characters. Ask him if that seems fair to him. This isn’t about conforming to social norms. It’s about letting a girl have a lead role. He doesn’t get access to everything he wants, and that is perfectly fair.

obligations Wed 21-Mar-18 11:41:19

Thank you, that's a good idea if I can get the teacher to agree. I think she just doesn't really get how hard it is for him to understand. And I understand those debates only too well. Hope your ds is doing well.

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