It’s no coincidence that “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” was scheduled for April.
April is World Autism Month and the play’s central character, Christopher, lives with autism. The play is an attempt to present in unique ways what it’s like to experience life and think as Christopher does while portraying his interactions with family, friends and others--and his attempt to solve a neighborhood mystery.
“Traditionally, we do a musical in April but I scheduled ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ instead because of its themes and April being World Autism Awareness Month,” said Richard Frazier, artistic director at Theatre Macon and director of the play.
“‘Curious Incident’ has been the most rewarding experience I’ve had directing any material — and I’ve had some tremendously rewarding experiences directing. The feedback since it opened April 5 has been overwhelmingly positive though it’s a very different show from anything we’ve done. I think I can safely say there hasn’t been anything like it locally. Though it’s very different in how it’s presented and in ways that help show Christopher’s perspective, I believe it’s such a moving story people get past the differences to focus on why they’re there: to help us see through Christopher’s eyes.”
Frazier said the play is one he’s wanted to present since he happened to see it in 2016 on Broadway.
He said it was like “finding a gem.”
“I’d never seen anything like it,” he said. “I found the way it was crafted and the technical elements and the way it explored autism to be remarkable and effective. I’ve had people who have children with autism tell me they found it very powerful and accurate.”
As far as differences, Frazier didn’t reveal all the elements, but said they include such things as a remarkably bare set with the stage marked in a grid and graphics, images and animations projected on an 8 by 6-foot video wall to help express Christopher’s mind.
And by the way, Frazier said the projections didn’t come canned with the script, but were imagined and created by Christopher Freeman, the actor playing the lead role of Christopher.
Other “different” features Frazier pointed out were how sound is used, visual elements and the fact that actors play multiple roles and don’t leave the stage for the first act and majority of the second.
“I’d say the experience is a mathematical, electrical, technological one, all geared toward revealing Christopher,” he said. “You’ll understand that if you attend the play. It’s very immersive. Be aware that some of how Christopher sees and experiences things is uncomfortable and there’s very strong language.”
Frazier recommends the work as a look into living with autism, as well as, an entertaining theatrical experience. He said in preparing for the production, he and cast members watched videos on autism and had lengthy discussions. He said they wanted to present the subject without stereotypical characterizations.
“I hope the play can be a learning experience and bridge into what autism feels like,” he said. “I hope people can in a small way experience it and gain a greater understating and deeper appreciation for those with autism.”
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” was written for the stage by Simon Stephens based on the novel by Mark Haddon. Theatre Macon continues its showing through April 14 in its downtown theater at 438 Cherry St.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”
Where: Theatre Macon, 438 Cherry St.
When: 7:30 p.m. April 11; 8 p.m. April 12-13, 2:30 p.m. April 14
Cost: Adults $25, seniors $20, students $15