Drama Club Presents ‘The Curious Incident’, Despite Pandemic

Lauren Cincotta, Editor in Chief

This year the WSHS Drama Club will virtually present The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime based on the book by Mark Haddon. The story follows Christopher Boone, a 15 year old boy working to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor’s dog. Christopher is on the Autism spectrum and the story follows his investigation as well as his personal growth and his relationships with those close to him.

 “Personally, I am most excited to see Christopher’s story unfold for an audience.  He is a fascinating young man and his story gives us a glimpse into a world we don’t often see.  It can build empathy and understanding for people with Autism,” said Drama Club Advisor Mrs. Svec. Senior cast member Ethan Garstka has taken on the role of Christopher in this production. “Christopher is a highly intelligent person, he always manages to stay on top of things and when things get rough he always has a plan even though initial shock may scare him off at first,” Garstka said. 

In addition to the task of presenting the story of these characters, the cast and directors have had to adjust rehearsal and performance plans due to the pandemic. After starting off with a few virtual read-throughs in the fall, the cast began participating in in-person rehearsals in the auditorium a few days during the week. Through January, the cast was rehearsing at the auditorium and preparing for the production.  This was a welcome opportunity to participate in an activity off-screen. The rehearsals followed COVID-19 safety guidelines for social distancing and everyone wore masks at all times. The ten person cast worked with a three person crew and the two directors to make the production run smoothly. Keeping everyone safe required considerable flexibility.

“Everything is in flux and seems to change from moment to moment.  I like to plan ahead but things change so quickly, I have to re-plan a lot.  We had to hold auditions outside, not the best location for acoustics, and we have had to do some rehearsals on a google meet,” Mrs. Svec added. The drama club officers and the advisors discussed several different options. One thing the students were firm on was that they wanted a play where the actors interact with each other.  They didn’t want to just do monologues. “We felt this play sort of lent itself to social distancing because Christopher gets very uncomfortable if people get too close to him.  It’s also a fascinating play with a little bit of something for everyone, part mystery, part social commentary, part family drama. It is very compelling,” she continued. 

 Another challenge was how to present the production in the absence of a live audience. After thinking through all of the options, the directors decided that the best choice for the show was a prerecorded version, to be presented on Channel 15. This option required filming to occur on different days. Filming the show was a new experience for both the cast and crew. This offered the opportunity to film scenes in different locations, and think of different ways to present the show that would not ordinarily be possible in front of a live audience. The West Springfield High School Drama Club’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime will air on local access Channel 15, on March 5th and 6th at 7:00 pm.