Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Timothy Leahy, Erin MacArthur and Wendy Feign are the cast of “The Real Me.” (Photo: Brio Integrated Theatre via Instagram)

The dramatic one-act play “The Real Me” returns next week to mark the start of autism awareness month, just short of a year since its U.S. premiere in May at Lesley University.


As a playwright, author Joseph Sorrentino is more likely to write a comedy – such as “The Gavones of Philadelphia,” about a crass family gathered for a funeral, or his 10-minute “Frankenharry” pieces – but he is also a  journalist and documentary photographer who has covered social issues for more than 30 years, and the paths crossed when he found himself interviewing families who had children with disabilities.

“He was struck by one particular poem that was written by a young woman with a disability, and this gave him the idea for the play,” said Sahar Ahmed, director of Sorrentino’s one-act and founder of its presenting company, Brio Integrated Theatre.

Sorrentino lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and his work has been performed there to acclaim, But he found the nonprofit Brio online, more than a decade into its mission to create art in collaboration with people with disabilities, “and thought that we would be the appropriate venue,” Ahmed said.

Sorrentino interviewed eight families in the writing of “The Real Me,” which gives a glimpse into a family who has a child with a disability – Nancy, a 24-year-old woman, and her parents, Ann and Don, with the audience in the role of interviewer. The cast includes Wendy Feign (who began acting in 1985 as Porky’s daughter, Blossom, in “Porky’s Revenge”) as Ann; Timothy Leahy as Don; and Erin MacArthur returning in the role of Nancy from the Lesley University performance.

“We are so excited to be doing ‘The Real Me’ again, because the script writer, Joseph Sorrentino, is coming back to Boston” for audience Q&A sessions, MacArthur said.

“The Real Me” will be performed for free at 7:30 p.m. Friday, with a talkback session afterward, at The Center for Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville. Before the play is a 6:30 p.m. reception with a raffle and catering by c Mama, a Lowell mother-and-daughter team making the Egyptian street food koshari – lentils, rice, pasta, chickpeas and fried onions topped with a cumin-infused tomato sauce.