LAWRENCE — The Tony Award-winning play "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," by Simon Stephens, based on the best-selling book by Mark Haddon, opens at University Theatre on Friday, Nov. 9.
This play is told through the eyes of Christopher, a 15-year-old English boy who discovers the neighbor’s dog has been murdered and decides to investigate. Christopher is on the autism spectrum and records each fact in a “murder mystery” book, which provides a look inside of his intricate mind.
“This play is about someone who accomplishes what he sets out to accomplish despite the barriers that face him. And that’s a universal story,” said Harry Parker, guest director and chair of Texas Christian University’s Department of Theatre. “Christopher will not let go of what he wants to discover, learn and do with his life. He may have different, maybe even more profound, obstacles than a lot of us have, but nothing stops him.”
The University Theatre has upheld the University of Kansas' mission of diversity, equity and inclusion – and stayed true to the Broadway production – by casting an individual who self-identifies on the spectrum for the role of Christopher, played by Darian Martin, a sophomore elementary education major from Scottsdale, Arizona. And the cast and creative team are able to learn from Parker, also a KU alumnus, because of the Ronald A. Willis Visiting Scholar/Artist Fund, of which he is the inaugural recipient.
“Ron was maybe the most exciting teacher I’ve ever been in the classroom with at KU or anywhere else. To be associated with him, even a little, is very humbling,” Parker said.
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" will be performed Nov. 9-11 and Nov. 16-18 in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre at Murphy Hall, with matinees on Sundays. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff, $15 for KU students at the door, and $10 for children and KU students in advance. For tickets and more information, call 785-864-3982, visit the University Theatre Ticket Office in Murphy Hall, or visit to kutheatre.com.
There will be a discussion with the director and mental health professionals after the play Nov. 9. There will be a sensory-friendly performance at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 11. The light and sound cues for the Nov. 11 performance will be softened, and dim house lights will be on throughout the play. All are welcome to attend the Nov. 11 performance.
The University Theatre will provide a “safe space” in the lobby for anyone during the entire run, as well as a handbook to sound/light/special effects, both of which will be available for all productions. Infrared hearing-assistive headsets are available for any of these performances. Audio description may be requested in advance from KU Audio Reader.
Harry Parker is a professor and chair of the Department of Theatre at Texas Christian University. He has directed more than 100 professional and university plays and musicals, including productions at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Stages Repertory Theatre, American Heartland Theatre and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Rep, where he directed "The Music Man in Concert" earlier this fall in a unique public works collaboration with a cast of more than 70. A musical theatre historian, he hosts “Curtain Up,” a popular weekly radio program about musicals on KTCU, FM 88.7 in Fort Worth. Parker received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from TCU and master's degree and doctorate from KU. He previously served for 11 years as the director of theatre at Emporia State University. He is a two-time winner of the Kennedy Center Medallion of Excellence and the former national chair of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. In 2013, he won the TCU Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement as a creative teacher and scholar. Parker is an associate member of The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
The company includes Darian Martin, a Scottsdale, Arizona, sophomore, as Christopher; Chloé Ryan, a Sapulpa, Oklahoma, sophomore, as Siobhan; Brandon Hedger, a Mansfield, Texas, senior, as Ed; Elsa Bernauer, a Leawood junior, as Judy; Dominique Waller, a Shawnee junior, as Mrs. Shears and others; Jack Zimmerman, a St. Louis junior, as Roger and others; DeAngelo Davis, a Lynwood, Illinois, senior, as policeman and others; Hunter Hill, a Sabetha junior, as the Rev. Peters and others; Tehreem Chaudhry, a Lawrence sophomore, as information desk attendant and others; Stella Garibaldi, a Kansas City, Missouri, sophomore; as Mrs. Alexander and others; Iman Hinton, a Master of Fine Arts student, as costume designer; Kate Smeltzer, a Prairie Village Master of Fine Arts student, as lighting designer; Kayleigh Shaffer, an Olathe junior, as sound designer; Timmia Hearn, a Lawrence master's degree student, as dramaturg; and Emily Hunsucker, a Boca Raton, Florida, junior, as stage manager. The production also features Rana Esfandiary, visiting assistant professor, as scenic and projections designer.
The University Theatre is a production wing of KU Department of Theatre & Dance, offering six public productions during the academic year. The University Theatre productions are funded in part by Student Senate fees and supported by Truity Credit Union.
The department is one of three departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.
For more information on the Curious Incident or to purchase tickets, visit KUtheatre.com. You can also view a video interview with Parker below.