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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

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From page to stage: The Curious Incident comes to life

The behind the scenes of the Parkway West theater
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Yusra Khan
Acting under the spotlight, junior Jack Mullen and freshman Joe McCurdy perform an emotional father-to-son scene from “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” The cast members worked hard to master the accents of the characters of the original story, which takes place in England. “We started off with American accents and robotic lines and slowly morphed into a British wonderland full of different characters, accents, and cadences,” Mullen said. “It took a while and it was hard work, but the people around me are what helped.”

From Feb. 23-24, the theater department produced and performed the adapted play, “The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time.” Based on the mystery novel by author Mark Haddon, the play follows the story of an autistic boy, Christopher, accused of killing his neighbor’s dog. While the performance only lasted one weekend, months of background work, including auditions and rehearsals, built up to the final product: showtime.

 

Auditions:

While the show spanned of two and a half hours at each performance on Friday and Saturday, the process began several months in advance with auditions. Over Nov. 28-29, 2023, students were given scenes to prepare and memorize. After performing for theater director Amie Gossett, the cast members were ultimately chosen for roles through their quality of acting. 

“I was auditioning for Christopher’s father. To prepare, I started off by memorizing a full, [one]-page monologue as well as the three scenes that [Christopher’s father] had,” freshman Avery Hermann said. “ Then, almost every day in my free time, I was running through the monologue and trying to work out the motions of [the character].”

Though the students auditioned for the characters they preferred, roles were given out based on how well Gossett thought they fit a certain character — even if that character wasn’t their first choice. Hermann, while originally auditioning for the role of Christopher’s father, was cast as Roger Shears who is his mother’s lover.

“I was really excited to have [the role of] Roger even though it wasn’t a part that I was going for,” Hermann said. “It’s the third-biggest role in the play and I’m thrilled to be part of this.”

Rehearsals:

Following auditions, rehearsals began soon after casting and took the most time in the process of creating the production. Rehearsals often took up to 12 hours a week; on top of rehearsals until 5:30 pm after school each day of the week, the students had to put in work at home. Sophomore Juliana Rodgers prepared for her role of Siobhan, one of the main narrators in the production, by repeating her lines until she could retain them. 

“Most of the time, you memorize outside of school and rehearsal,” Rodgers said. “For my character, I [practiced] about half an hour each night for about three weeks.”

Consequently, participating in the production caused students to have to balance their school workload, as rehearsals eliminated a decent chunk of time after school that the actors previously used for schoolwork. 

“[Theater] is a good crash course [on] time management,” Rodgers said. “You have to learn how to get things done and plan things out. If you’re a procrastinator, it’s not the best, but if you get a schedule going, then you’re good.”

Despite the additional effort, rehearsal rehearsals are crucial in aiding individuals with their parts as well as heightening the success of the play as a whole. In particular, the resources provided by rehearsals, such as first-hand assistance from the director, are instrumental in polishing the performance. 

“[Rehearsals] benefit us as a cast because we’re all together. We have the physical space so we can run through lines and go specifically where we need to go,” Rodgers said. “We also have Gossett there to give us our blocking and notes.”

Prepping for her performance, senior Presley George applies her makeup for the opening night of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” Though George had a minor role in the play, she still had to practice getting show-ready for an audience. “I like doing my makeup because I get chances to do looks that I might not normally do. During opening night, these makeup skills are put into practice and jitters start to kick in. Opening night is definitely the scariest and [when] I get nervous, I try to walk around and talk to my friends to help calm myself down. But after opening night, I feel okay and I feel like ‘I got this,’” George said. (Yusra Khan)

Showtime:

The first showing of the play was Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. Though the cast had performed in front of middle school students before to gain comfort in their show, this was the first time they could perform “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” in front of a full crowd of family and friends. 

“[Performing for] an audience for the first time was very exhilarating,” junior Jack Mullen said. “There’s definitely different energies between audiences and to test that out was exciting.”

The moments before opening the curtain were critical and spent doing last-minute studying on lines. Even for the experienced cast members, weeks of prepping for the show could not discount the pressure of a full audience. To handle nervous energy, many of the actors have their own routines to help calm them before the show; with many important lines and a large presence in the play, Mullen, who played Christopher’s father Ed Boone, followed his own routine to soothe his jitters. 

“I went over all of [my lines] and the cadences of which I say them. [Then], right before the show, I like to do a warm-up with my voice and eat sour candy, which is soothing to the throat,”  Mullen said. 

In the end, the time spent preparing for the performance behind the scenes is much more than the audience may initially realize. However, the most rewarding part of putting on the play comes from achieving a common goal and watching the audience enjoy the product.

“[Reaching my] full potential and making sure I’m doing everything [in] the best way that I can is most important. I wouldn’t consider [theater] stressful, but I definitely [feel] pressure when it comes to doing the best I can,” Mullen said. “[The best part is] the audience’s reactionsThere’s an energy, a vibe, and a buzz among the audience, and that’s why we do [theater]: to entertain.”

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About the Contributors
Keira Lang, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 10 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black, "Heartless" by Marissa Meyer and "Harry Potter." Who is your hero? Me, myself and I. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Fried Rice.
Zoya Hasan, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 10 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? I don't have one. Who is your hero? My brother because he has the positive mentality I hope to have, too. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Katie's Pizza Pasta's Lemon Paccere (or something like that; it's absolutely heavenly).
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