Drama. By Ken LaZebnik.
Cast: 1m., 1w., 1 either gender. Autism makes social interactions challenging. Imagine, then, a high-school senior on the autism spectrum who desperately wants a girlfriend—and misreads just about every social cue she gives him. Theory of Mind is Bill's journey as he takes Hilo out on a date, with hilarious, touching and profound insights about identity, what it means to be on the autism spectrum, and love. Set during one evening in Los Angeles, Bill Gates (his grandfather was Bill Gates before Bill Gates was Bill Gates) picks up Hilo from her home, already anxious about following local parking regulations. As they drive to the Hollywood Bowl to see his favorite band, we see Bill and Hilo's funny and moving relationship: Hilo, easy-going lover of animals, views Bill as a friend; Bill perceives her as his girlfriend. Along the way, they have assorted mishaps and adventures involving the death of a squirrel and Bill's loss of the tickets. All this time, Bill is sitting on a big secret: he has applied and been accepted to Berea College, the same school that Hilo wants to attend. Hilo is aghast; this is the last thing she wants and the last school Bill should attend. (He did apply to a safety school—M.I.T.) Bill is not defined by his diagnosis; he is a rich character, brilliant, innocent, vulnerable, with an emotional arc that leads him to question why God gave him a unique set of challenges. The climax of the play is a moving affirmation of the value of difference. Commissioned and premiered by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Simple set. Approximate running time: 50 minutes.