The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
adapted by Simon Stephens
based on the novel by Mark Haddon
director’s notes by Emilia Sargent
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time opens with a question: Who killed Wellington the dog? Partly detective, adventure, and heartwarming coming of age story, the play centers on Christopher, an exceptionally bright young man who also finds his everyday world full of obstacles, big and small. Christopher’s journey brings us hope as it reminds us of the incredible power of the human spirit to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. We have the capacity for surprising strength within ourselves, especially when we accept others and all their imperfection, practice forgiveness, and allow others to help us.
Though it is not stated explicitly, Christopher is a person on the autism spectrum. I believe that Mark Haddon, author of the book the play is adapted from, chose to endow Christopher with neurodivergence and more obvious differences to highlight the theme of acceptance. Christopher’s needs pose challenges both to him and to those who love and tend him. It is easy to see why he struggles. As the story unfolds, it delves more deeply into how his parents, Judy and Ed, struggle to care for Christopher, loving him completely, yet in the imperfect way most parents experience. Christopher must learn to accept and forgive his parents for their flaws, reminding us that every human being is different and deserving of love and compassion.
The play is a wonderfully collaborative piece and features a strong ensemble of actors who all help to bring Christopher’s unique, extraordinarily imaginative mind to life on the stage. The theme for this year’s season is “Come Back Together with TampaRep”. We are bringing artists, theatre companies, and our audience back together in the spirit of connection. Over the past few years, divisiveness, mistrust, and separation have permeated our society. We are all over the map politically, culturally, and spiritually, and that’s WONDERFUL. We wish to provide a haven where people can come together, “around the campfire” as it were, and experience stories that can help us understand each other and allow us to find some shared truths. We want to examine universal themes and issues that can bring us together to solve problems and build bridges, rather than divide and segregate us. I wanted to direct this play because it accomplishes these things. It reminds us that we need each other, and that we have each other if we can open our hearts and accept others as unique, miraculous individuals. We can love each other with intensity and imperfection, and still love each other well. We can celebrate our differences with empathy and understanding. Our human spirits thrive through the fullness of all of life’s joys and tribulations. And as Christopher shows us, we can do anything.