Horsham writer tackles female autism in ground-breaking new play

November 12 marks another important milestone for Horsham writer and director Josh Merritt when the curtain goes up on his new work, Maddie, at London's Arcola Theatre (November 12- 14).


Josh developed Maddie during lockdown with actor Evlyne Oyedokun who, like Josh, lives with autism and dyspraxia. Now along with director Nicky Allpress the words are set to jump off the page and onto the stage.

Josh, who is originally from Horsham, is a twice-published playwright and has previously been commissioned by New Wolsey Theatre and Boundless Theatre. He is also a commissioned filmmaker with BBC Four/iPlayer and an Arts Council-funded writer-director.

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Josh said: “It has been an extraordinarily challenging and rewarding experience to work with Ev and Nicky developing and creating Maddie. I believe the significance of Maddie and this Arcola Theatre production lies in the fact that there hasn't been a play which tackles female autism and the issue of masking, not least by an autistic writer and starring an autistic actress.

“The humour, playfulness, imagination and unexpected moments of levity also make the play unique. We tackle homelessness and how, like disability, it can affect any one of us, but especially the more vulnerable in society, so denial is a big theme of the play and Maddie's impressionable character."

Josh's stage work has been produced at Arcola Theatre, Barbican, Folkestone Quarterhouse, and Shoreditch Town Hall. He is a founding member of Barbican Young Filmmakers, resulting in a ***** review of their final production by The Independent and Josh's film writing-directing work receiving an award from the producers of Sin City. His short films have screened globally, including London' s Olympic Park, and received TV broadcasts. He has written for Rory Bremner on BBC Radio 4 and currently has several TV, film and audio projects in development.