Open Forum

Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

  • 1.  Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

    Posted 13 days ago

    What are some great larger cast plays that are NEW for a fall drama. We've done Christmas Carol, Lend Me a Tenor, You Cant take it with You, The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, Fools, Its a Wonderful Life, Almost Maine, Dracula...to name a few.  I was looking at The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but was wondering if anyone had anyone object to a high school student portraying an autistic student. I haven't asked my principal yet, but I am worried that he will say no.  Any advice on any of these topics would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks everyone!!!

    Lorie Baldwin
    Lawrence High School Theater Director
    Lawrenceville NJ



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    Lorie Baldwin
    High School Theater Teacher and Director
    Richboro PA
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  • 2.  RE: Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

    Posted 13 days ago
    I've been thinking about Curious Incident too. As an English teacher, I loved the novel. You really need to right kid to pull off that part. Haddon wrote the book with a high degree of dignity and respect for those w autism when he wrote it. If I pitch it to my admin, that would be front and center. I would also build in first-hand research time for the cast to do all we can to get to know folks on the spectrum so that we might bring as much respect to the part, and the issue, as possible. I might even do a tie-in fundraiser with/for Autism Speaks or another organization. The nature of drama is struggle, and many plays feature various kinds of struggle by various people. Plays about those with deep depression, Helen Keller. Nobody is treating her with anything but respect. I think this can be done well too as long as great care and restraint are taken to not let Christopher become some sort of cartoon.

    BTW, by the end of the month, a 90-min school version is being published that has been reworked for simpler staging than the super-high tech original stage show. I'm eager to read that.

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    Steven Slaughter
    English/Theatre
    Rosslyn Academy
    Nairobi, Kenya

    "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." - W Berry
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  • 3.  RE: Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

    Posted 12 days ago
    At my school, I would talk to the Exceptional Children teachers to get their feelings about "Curious Incident..."

    We normally have several autistic students who are in self-contained classes, partially inclusion, or primarily inclusion.  We always invite EC teachers to bring students to any show we perform during the school day, from our children's show to our recent production of Macbeth.  Because we have a close relationship with the EC department, it would be very easy for me to send a student playing an autistic character to spend time in a classroom being a buddy to one or more autistic students as research.




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    C. J. Breland
    Asheville High School
    Asheville NC
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  • 4.  RE: Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

    Posted 12 days ago
    One of my students directed the Playscripts one act, "The Other Room" by Ariadne Blayde about an autistic high school student to great success. She and her cast researched autism extensively and used the school's special ed teachers as resources. A very rewarding experience!

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    Roger Paolini
    Buffalo NY
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  • 5.  RE: Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

    Posted 12 days ago
    The Curious Incident... is a very special play and I'm so glad it's out there bringing attention to Autism in a way that is unique. I'm just finishing a run in the cast of this show at a local theater and I am also the parent of an Autistic young adult. I've thought a lot about how I would approach directing this show at the high school level. Here are a few thoughts:
    • We've had an outstanding young actor (senior in high school) playing our Christopher but his rehearsal schedule was grueling for a student. After this experience, I would plan a much longer than normal rehearsal period for this show. The role of Christopher is more demanding than people realize, I think. The attention and care it deserves should be paramount to mounting the show. If you cannot have a believable Christopher, it would do a great disservice to the story but to those impacted by Autism.
    • The timing needed for dialects, movement, and transition coaching is also heavier than a normal show, in my opinion. In our production, six adults (ensemble) with a lot of acting experience struggled with the precision in these areas and would have felt more confident with a bit more time on the set with the blocks that were used. I'm sure high schoolers would require the same.
    • "Nothing About Us Without Us" is a disability rights slogan adopted by many advocacy groups and with a show like this, the opportunities are endless for ways to include the school community and community at large. Others have mentioned this already. Lauren Carr does a phenomenal workshop (and has presented at state festivals and ITF) - Creating Sensory Friendly Performances. If you have the chance, please check it out and consider some of the ideas if you produce this show. I would try hard to include students/families in our program who are on the Spectrum if they were willing to be resources and/or in the show. 
    How wonderful it is to be able to have discussions about telling such a powerful story! Thank you to everyone who considers this show and the care with which you approach it. Feel free to contact me directly if I can be a resource in any way.

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    Suzanne Maguire
    Associate Director,
    Lewis & Clark Tiger Drama
    WA State Thespian Board
    Spokane, WA
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  • 6.  RE: Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

    Posted 12 days ago
    Suzanne, thanks so much for your first hand experience and perspective with this show and issue. When you recommend a longer-than-normal rehearsal cycle, are you referring to a professional or school cycle? I don't know about others, but we take about three months from casting to staging a play, working after school 4 days a week plus a few weekend and late nights. Do you think it would require more than that?

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    Steven Slaughter
    English/Theatre
    Rosslyn Academy
    Nairobi, Kenya

    "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." - W Berry
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  • 7.  RE: Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

    Posted 11 days ago
    I just directed Curious Incident at my high school this fall. As the father of an autistic child, I had a great interest in helping the audience get into the mind of a person with autism. The key is emphasizing the sensory overload that Christopher experiences and his lack of ability to prioritize the events of his life. He struggles to decide which sights and sounds to pay attention to, and which directions by which adults he should heed and which he should disregard. We used a lot of projections, lighting, and stylized movement to help the audience experience the overload and confusion. There was never any question or concern from our administration or audiences that we were treating Christopher and people with autism with the utmost respect while trying to tell the story.
    My autistic son, who is now a 23 year old college graduate, saw the show and instantly recognized some of his own traits in Christopher. He was happy that the play helped people understand what he goes through on a daily basis. His only objection was that we planned to donate some of our proceeds to Autism Speaks, but that's a conversation for another day.

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    Tim Buchheit, Director
    Department of Theatre and Speech
    St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
    Washington, Mo.
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  • 8.  RE: Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

    Posted 11 days ago
    Tim, Suzanne, thanks very much for sharing your perspectives. Very interesting and really helpful. I would feel rather negligent doing this show and not spending enough time on cast research, first-person if possible.

    A follow-up question for both of you: In addition to being a strong actor, obviously, what qualities, physical attributes, special skills, etc. would you say are important for your actor playing Christopher?

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    Steven Slaughter
    English/Theatre
    Rosslyn Academy
    Nairobi, Kenya

    "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." - W Berry
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  • 9.  RE: Fall drama Ideas and Curious Incident....

    Posted 11 days ago
    The actor must make the character likable. Christopher can easily come off as stubborn or angry, so you need a charismatic actor who can keep him sympathetic. Other than that, I don't know that he needs any other specific traits. I saw the national tour of the show, and they did a number of acrobatic things with Christopher and the rest of the cast, but I don't think those acrobatics are necessary in telling the story. We didn't do any of that in our show.

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    Tim Buchheit, Director
    Department of Theatre and Speech
    St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
    Washington, Mo.
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