UK staff members support Studio Players production of neurodivergent drama
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 10, 2023) — Several staff members and students at the University of Kentucky, either as volunteers or as part of their duties in service to the Commonwealth, are supporting Lexington’s community theatre Studio Players in their production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," based on the novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens.
In this unique "whodunnit" the audience follows Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old mathematical genius, as he tries to solve the mysterious death of his neighbor’s dog Wellington. Along with solving this mystery, Christopher strives to find his place in the world; he navigates a neurotypical world with a neurodivergent brain. Christopher experiences intense isolation, and this play takes the audience along for all the moments of that isolation: happy and sad, easygoing and intense, good and bad.
This play was one of the first of its kind to bring conversations about neurodiversity and the neurodiverse community to the forefront. It explores elements of identity, authenticity, relationships and acceptance. The audience sees Christopher’s neurodiversity does not hinder him but rather makes him who he is and allows him to thrive.
Bob Singleton, an academic advisor in the College of Education and advisory member of the Studio Player’s board of directors, has volunteered as the production’s director.
“For starters, it’s just a terrific adventure,” said Singleton. “It’s a great story, told from a unique perspective, and it provides an opportunity to work in a style that I really enjoy. On top of all of that, I feel it’s an opportunity for representation and awareness — for me personally, for the folks involved and for people who come to see it. There are direct, personal connections to the character of Christopher and the events of the play for many of the cast, crew, designers and other members of the production team and I feel that has provided additional motivation for being accurate and honest in our depiction of the characters and events of this story and I believe it has deepened the connection among everyone involved. It's the kind of event that stands alone as a wonderful story but also sticks with you after the curtain falls.”
Atticus White, a staff member in the Office of LGBTQ* Resources, has volunteered as the assistant director.
“After hearing about Studio Players doing this show, I immediately jumped at the chance to be a part of it,” said White. “As someone who is neurodivergent, I was excited to be a part of a project that centers around a neurodivergent character. Getting to know our cast has been so fulfilling; each one of them brings such magic to the stage and elements to their characters that you can't just find on the pages of the script.”
Kaylee Lloyd, an academic affairs officer with The Graduate School, is playing the role of Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher.
“One of my favorite things about choosing to play Siobhan as neurodivergent is what she comes to represent for Christopher in that context,” said Lloyd. “She is an adult living independently, working in a career she cares about, generally finding a lot of happiness and satisfaction in her life — and she’s doing it in a world that isn’t built for her. So, she becomes this kind of proof to Christopher that he can do those things too. I think that representation and that message is so important, especially for young ND people: the path might look different for you, but you can still get where you want to go.”
Zoe Womack, a graduating senior in the College of Fine Arts, is the stage manager.
"Curious Incident was one of the first plays I remember learning about when I began doing theatre when I was a teenager,” said Womack. “I was blown away by the intricate design and genuine emotions evoked throughout the work. I had never imagined that less than a decade later, I would be working to bring such an incredible story to life in my own hometown. Every day I am blown away by the work our cast and crew puts into this show and I really cannot wait to get to share it with the community."
John Caldora is serving as the play’s technical consultant as part of his duties as an accommodations consultant with the Disability Resource Center and coordinator of UK’s Neurodiverse Education and Social Initiative. He is also neurodivergent himself.
“As the technical consultant, I’m here to make sure that the neurodivergent experience is accurately represented and to help David Lin, our star, with the motivations and nuances of playing Christopher,” said Caldora. “I also give the production historical context about autism in the United Kingdom in the early 2000s. I’m also here to provide outreach and resources to audience members. It’s amazing how many neurodivergent people are acting in or working on this production, it’s great to see such authentic representation.”
Also participating in the production are alumni Jonathan Hall, Teran Sundy, Alison McReynolds, Meredith Crutcher and Tommy Gatton.
Also supporting the production from UK are Jonathan Thomas, Ph.D., and Molly Fisher, Ph.D., in the College of Education, and Kody Kiser in UK Marketing and Brand Strategy.
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" runs from May 11-28 at The Carriage House Theater. Tickets are available from the Singletary Center Box Office at www.scfatickets.com or by calling 859-257-4929.
For more information on UK’s Neurodiverse Educational and Social Initiative, visit their BBNvolved page: https://uky.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/nesi.
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