On the weekend of Nov. 9, WHHS’s theatre department will present the play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. For the actors involved, this play is the culmination of months of hard work and meticulous practice. The hours of rehearsal are now paying off as the theatre department once again prepares to wow WHHS and Cincinnati’s theatre community.
WHHS’s theatre department continues to stand out in the variety of experiences among the actors. For some actors such as leads Jack Giglia, ‘21, SENIOR Katie Sutkamp and SENIOR Oliver Vockell, The Curious Incident has given them the opportunity to explore new roles. For others who have been shy towards theatre before, they have found a place in the production. Actor Rafael Ramirez, ’21, was impressed by the welcoming environment for a self-described introvert like himself.
“I’m not the most outgoing person, but everybody in the theatre department has been very accepting of me being here,” Ramirez said. Ramirez’s experience shows the welcoming nature of the theatre department and the opportunity WHHS’s students have at all levels of theater experience to get involved.
The Curious Incident takes on many sensitive topics, primarily autism. To many of the actors, including SENIOR Katie Sutkamp, The Curious Incident provides the opportunity to present the topic of autism in a way that exposes the audience to the everyday lives of families affected by autism. Moreover, autism is used as a way to tell a story about the adventures of a fifteen-year-old boy. By using Christopher Boone as the conduit of the satirical murder mystery, the audience is left with a greater understanding of how the world is seen by those with autism. Jack Giglia, ‘21, who plays Christopher, said “I think the show is trying to show us that Christopher isn’t really that different from all of us.”
Michael Sherman, the show’s director, sees great social value in telling Christopher’s story. “I think it’s a really great experience for high school kids to see a story that is about someone their own age,” Sherman said. The murder mystery of Christopher’s neighbor’s dog may not seem like a complex plot, but Sherman contends there is a deeper understanding that can be found. “…actions that we take for granted every day, walking down the street, talking to our neighbors… navigating public transportation, all of these things sort of become this… Greek epic of a journey for him,” Sherman said.
“It’s important to go in with an open mind just knowing that this is going to be completely different from how most people’s minds work,” Sutkamp said. The play takes into account the complex movement of individuals with autism in order to show how people with autism still have their own interesting adventures.
The actors must go beyond just memorizing the script. Since the play deals with sensitive issues, the actors must gain a deeper understanding of autism among other factors in the show, as did Giglia, who “did a lot of research on autism online.” This study was expanded by the cast hearing from a doctor who specialized in autism. Additionally, the actors were given the opportunity to learn about the experience of people living with autism by volunteering at Camp Stepping Stones.
The WHHS Theatre Department stands apart in its ability to tackle these new, more socially poignant plays. When speaking to members of the cast, there is no fear of the topic matter being too heavy, nor is there a fear of not reaching expectations. WHHS’s theatre department is ready to wow again.
Disclaimer: in the interest of transparency, Owen Cummings, ‘22. is a cast member of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.