Aidan Largey ’21
As part of its fall program, the Holy Cross Theatre Department recently presented a play adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which ran on November 1-3, Nov. 8, and can still be seen on Nov. 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Fenwick Theatre.
The play tells the story of a 15-year-old boy from England named Christopher living with autism, who is extremely gifted at mathematics but is at a loss when it comes to interpreting everyday life. When he finds the corpse of his neighbor’s dog, he resolves to find the murderer. In the process, he discovers new information about his father and family, as well as himself.
Director Scott Malia sought to make sure that no character was one-dimensional. He said, “It was very important to me that all of the characters, especially the protagonist, were complex and very human. Also, this play changes time and location frequently, so it was essential to collaborate with the designers and actors to create a production that would show all of these shifts while bringing the audience with us.”
Malia added that “not only is the play is a really terrific adaptation of a wonderful novel, it also has so many vivid characters for our student actors and I think it’s great for Holy Cross to be part of a larger discussion about neurodiversity.”
Directing a play with a protagonist on the autism spectrum is groundbreaking because productions rarely feature neurodiverse characters at all, let alone in a main role. When depicting these characters, it’s crucial to avoid offensive stereotypes.
Brendan Sanders ’21, who acted as Christopher, shared, “Playing a character on the autism spectrum was an extremely difficult task for me because I’m trying to accurately depict the struggles, emotions, and thoughts of my character but at the same time don’t want to offend anyone or over-dramatize the character. Scott and I worked tirelessly to make what actors refer to as ‘choices’ for this character. For example, we tried to discern the location of Christopher on the spectrum based on clues from the text. From there we sought help from people who have personal connections with autism (Director Malia’s son, Nathan, is on the autism spectrum) and we also met with a student here at Holy Cross who lives with autism.”
Sanders continued, “I was fortunate enough to have the chance to work with some amazing people over the past two months, trying to create a character that would resonate with the audience. This was the most demanding experience for me as an actor thus far, and I feel that it has pushed me far beyond my comfort zone and improved my acting skills immensely.”
“Curious Incident” will continue to run on November 9 and 10. Ticket are $10 for the Holy Cross community and $15 General Admission, and can be purchased at the lobby table in Hogan on the afternoon of Nov. 9, or at the Box Office before the show.
Photo by Matthew Wasser.