Prep, practice, perform

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By Kate Emmanuel, Kaitlin Campbell and Melissa Fan, Co-Copy Editor and Staff Reporters

’Stoga Theatre presented the annual fall drama on Nov. 18, 19, and 20. The play is based on the novel “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which is about a 15-year-old boy, Christopher Boone, who investigates the killing of his neighbor’s dog. 

From math to astronomy, Boone is unusually talented in many areas of his life; however, he has his fair share of struggles too. The color yellow, strangers, and physical contact with others all bother Boone. Although it is never explicitly stated, Boone is often interpreted as a character with autism.

In order to portray this character accurately, the cast of the fall drama attended a presentation on autism from Conestoga’s autistic support teacher, Michael DeVitis. DeVitis focused on teaching actors how to treat people with autism during his presentation. He emphasized the value of making personal connections with others before making assumptions. 

“My message was the importance of getting to know individuals, whether they have autism or not, and how important it is to learn about different people’s backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences,” DeVitis said. 

Although only seniors and co-lead actors Jared Bundens and Thomas Dunlap portrayed Christopher, the entire cast attended the presentation. The group of young actors were enthusiastic to learn about autism.

“When I met with the group, they were really welcoming and supportive, and I felt like my message was heard,” DeVitis said. “Although I shared what my experience has been working with individuals with autism, I think what was most impactful about my presentation is I (also) shared what an individual with autism faces from their point of view. That’s really what people need to walk away with.”

To further his own knowledge, Dunlap supplemented what he learned from the presentation with other perspectives.

“I read articles written by autistic actors online (about) things they do to be more authentic (in their performances) and things they worry about with neurotypical people playing autistic (characters),” Dunlap said. 

For Bundens, there came a moment of understanding that in order to depict Boone as a multifaceted character, he would have to make a personal connection with the audience members.

“I eventually realized that (with my) acting, I had to choose a direction and develop it. I wasn’t playing autism personified- I was playing Christopher,” Bundens said.

Alongside making a connection with the audience members, another goal for the fall drama was to emphasize the importance of individuality.

“I hope the audience (came) away from this thinking that people shouldn’t be underestimated or overlooked,” Bundens said. “And (I hope) even more that people (were) inspired by Christopher’s perseverance in overcoming his fears, discomforts, and the daunting world around him.”

Check out Kaitlin Campbell and Melissa Fan’s video package on the fall play below!


Kate Emmanuel can be reached at [email protected]

Kaitlin Campbell can be reached at [email protected]

Melissa Fan can be reached at [email protected]