Imagine a world where neurodiversity isn’t seen as weird. A world where neurodivergent women can feel comfortable and seen. Where masking is not required. Well, Dora Colquhoun, a British theater actress, has taken an important step in making such a world possible by creating the stage production ADHD The Musical: Can I Have Your Attention Please?.
Dora Colquhoun, a theater actress from Liverpool, UK, has created a production that brings visibility to neurodiversity
Diagnosed with ADHD herself as a young adult, suddenly all her previous struggles with jobs, dating, and life in general made sense. It was during the COVID lockdown in the UK that she decided to bring her story to the stage in the hope of helping others. Dora explains: “This show is about my experience of being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, and looking back on my life and thinking, ‘oh, that makes so much sense’ about the decisions I made. Losing things, maybe being a bit risky, saying inappropriate things.” But telling her story from her own perspective felt a bit too personal, so she decided to adopt the personas of her heroes - performing as Dolly Parton, Julie Andrews, and Cher.
"My aim is to create acceptance, understanding and open up the conversation as to what having ADHD means. I do not have any answers, but I have stories, songs and multiple wigs."
Dora clarifies: “when I'm telling these stories that are embarrassing and difficult, I find it hard to describe those experiences as me. So, then I thought, who are my superheroes? Who gives me strength? Imagine if I told these really embarrassing, excruciating stories as Dolly Parton with a wig on?” The show is made up of funny monologues, songs and dance numbers and seems to have really resonated with audiences, with one reviewer writing: “it was fantastic! So relatable, so moving, and it gave me the validation I needed to know I’m not alone in this, and no matter how much judgment I receive, I AM ENOUGH! Truly the best play I’ve ever seen.”
The show is currently running in theaters around the UK
And in the true spirit of inclusion, the show has subtitles (in the form of a signer) for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Dora also points out that the show is not just for neurodiverse folks, but for anyone with self-esteem issues (so, basically, it’s for a whole lot of us!). The production was funded by the Arts Council England and Dora also worked with Professor Joydeep Bhattacharya - a neuroscientist from Goldsmiths University in London.
Echoing a sentiment close to my own heart, Dora says: "for many years women have been left out of the conversation and research. I hope to provide an honest, eye-opening and entertaining account of my experience as a woman with ADHD. My aim is to create acceptance, understanding, and open up the conversation as to what having ADHD means. I do not have any answers, but I have stories, songs, and multiple wigs."
Dora’s production ADHD The Musical: Can I Have Your Attention Please? is currently touring theaters in the UK. And if you'd like coaching for your own neurodiversity,