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The University Star

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The University Star

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“Curious Incident” cast seeks to unite audience with inclusive storytelling

Payton+Russell+as+Christopher+Boone+for+The+Curious+Incident+of+the+Dog+in+the+Nighttime.+The+Department+of+Theatre+and+Dance+will+put+on+the+production+from+March+31+through%26%23160%3BApril+3+at+the+Patti+Strickel+Harrison+Foundational+Studio+Theatre.%26%23160%3B

Payton Russell as Christopher Boone for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.” The Department of Theatre and Dance will put on the production from March 31 through April 3 at the Patti Strickel Harrison Foundational Studio Theatre. 

In the sold-out production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” members of Texas State’s Theatre and Dance program will showcase the thrilling adventure and difficult journey of a young hero. The performance will run from March 31 through April 3 at the Patti Strickel Harrison Foundation Studio Theatre.
Based on the novel by Mark Haddon, the play follows the life of a neurodivergent 15-year-old boy named Christoper Boone, who is falsely accused of killing his neighbor’s dog. Christopher, a math wiz who deals with the stresses of everyday life differently, sets out to investigate the crime himself.
Stacy Hawking, the production’s director, said that she wanted to showcase Christopher in an intimate setting in the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre so the audience can focus on the connections he has with others and how he navigates the world. 
“What gets me so emotional about the show is that we’re able to be more inclusive,” Hawking said. “The show is about someone who has autism. But, he can still accomplish his goals and do everything despite the circumstances that he’s given.”
During the first two weeks of rehearsal, the cast of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” practiced on Zoom, which presented them the opportunity to connect with one another and the text in a different way than they were accustomed to. Hawking said virtual rehearsals ran smoothly and created a unique bond among the ensemble.
“As the director, I facilitate what’s happening in the room, but they’re the ones who create the world and the space,” Hawking said. “It’s been a great opportunity and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without a creative team. The stage management team is truly phenomenal.”
Cast members like Lauren Green, a theater senior, took time to dissect their characters to understand the characteristics they would need to portray onstage. In her analysis of her character Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher and friend, Green said she is one of the only characters that checked in with Christopher along his journey.
“When we broke down our characters, I believe that I wrote Siobhan as a guider, a teacher and then a supporter for Christopher,” Green said.
Leading up to the show’s opening night, Hawking made sure to foster an environment of care for the cast by setting aside a day before each rehearsal to practice mindfulness before they got to work, something that Green said was beneficial in ensuring they put their best foot forward come showtime.
“This cast is just magical,” Green said. “Everyone has put in so much work ethic and honor into this process. As far as making sure that you’re doing your work, your research, that you’re creating a fully dimensional human being. There are moments backstage where I have to peek through and just watch. It takes my breath away. I feel so empowered and inspired by every single person in this cast.”
Ella Kriegel, a theater junior, plays the character Judy Boone, Christopher’s mom who is plagued with society’s idea of what a perfect mother should look like. In the story, Judy is looking for someone to tell her that her best is enough while also discovering what it means to be a mom. Kriegel said she hopes the audience will understand the depth of the story’s characters and that they take a meaningful message with them when they leave the theater.
“You’re getting brought into this entire world with movement and characters,” Kriegel said. “Once you step in, you get to live there for a moment and that wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have a smooth upward motion of building onto everything that we did beforehand.”
While creating a new world in front of the audience that will involve them within the show, Kriegel said the production’s ensemble makes up the bulk of the show. As they prepare to take the stage, she and her cast and crewmates hope their performance can be as meaningful to their audience as it is to them.
“We get to use people to create everything,” Kriegel said. “They create the set, the emotions that Christopher is feeling and these situations. I think it’s really beautiful how we’re able to use people that make them more accessible and relatable.”
For more information on “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” visit https://txstatepresents.universitytickets.com/

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