Berkley students to perform ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 12, 2018

 Cast members of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” lift Aaron Warrow while rehearsing a scene for the school play.

Cast members of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” lift Aaron Warrow while rehearsing a scene for the school play.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

BERKLEY — Berkley High’s upcoming performances of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” will take place at 7 p.m. Nov 16-17 and 3 p.m. Nov. 18 in the school’s auditorium, 2325 Catalpa Drive.

The play is centered on Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder who decides to solve the mystery of how his neighbor’s dog died, and in the process he discovers many new facts about his own life.

District Drama Coordinator and director of the play John Hopkins said that while he was on leave from the school for health reasons, a neighbor whose son has autism brought him the book, which gave him the idea to use the story for the next school play.

“It just was the right time to do something like this,” he said. “It also gave me opportunity to celebrate kids who are in my program who are on the autism spectrum, and past kids in my program. So really it was perfect. When I read it, it was just absolutely perfect for right now.”

Christopher will be played by 16-year-old junior Aaron Warrow, of Huntington Woods, who is not on the autism spectrum. In order to give the most respectful portrayal of someone with autism, those involved in the play worked with the school district’s peer-to-peer and special education programs during the casting and rehearsal process.

Hopkins said a panel of two students with autism, two siblings of children with autism, two mothers, two fathers and two teachers was put together to observe how the play was doing during the auditions and rehearsals.

“They come in on a regular basis, and they take a look at things,” he said. “They were there for rehearsal and were pointing out ways that Aaron, as Christopher, the main character in the show, ways that he can show that he’s getting agitated, and ways that he can show that he’s shutting down because it’s been too much in sort of the progression between the two places.”

Warrow said working with the panel went really well and helped him with how to portray Christopher.

“What’s great about them is they have experienced what our characters are experiencing. They know our characters best because they live them. The feedback they gave us was just really great,” he said.

In addition to studying other shows, such as “The Good Doctor” or “Atypical,” that are focused on people on the autism spectrum, Warrow said he also has a few friends on the spectrum who helped him with how to play someone with autism.

“We could really use the role to help educate some students at Berkley about what it’s like to be on the spectrum,” he said of the play.

For opening night Nov. 16, Hopkins said he’s working with the special education department on making the performance “sensory friendly” so that parents and their children with autism can enjoy the play.

“We will put some lights in the aisles a little bit more so that that’s safer,” he said. “We will also encourage the audience to be accepting of, if they hear something that’s not part of the play, then so be it. Just so we can really do the best at not just entertaining and telling a compelling story, but actually making the people we’re representing more comfortable and making the audience who maybe doesn’t know somebody directly who is affected by autism, making them more … accepting of what’s happening around them whether they know it or not.”

With opening night right around the corner, Warrow said he’s feeling pretty terrific about it.

“Everything’s pretty comfortable where we’re at,” he said. “I feel like we’re pretty much ready for the show.”

For tickets to see the show, which cost $5 online and $10 at the door for students and seniors, and $10 online and $15 at the door for adults, visit www.our.show./bedrama/curiousincident.