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Production explores identity issues

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Noelle Blumel
Staff Writer

The Claremont High School theater program hosted its second play of 2020 last week with the showing of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.”

The storyline consists of a 15-year-old boy named Christopher Boone who is intrigued with people’s mannerisms and goes on an adventure to find the killer of the next door neighbor’s dog.

Christopher, who is on the autism spectrum, uncovers realities of things he thought he always knew.

For example, finding out his mother, whom he previously thought was dead, was actually living with the man she had an affair with.

Along the journey, he is meant to discover who he truly is.

In scenes where Boone’s character would be frustrated, the lights would flash and sirens would go off to represent the chaos that consumed his brain.

The play ended with a monologue from Boone, where he learned that his disability was not a permanent setback.

He learned that by staying true to himself and being persistent for what he wants, nothing can stop him.

The set maintained a consistent blue mysterious light, creating an intriguing setting throughout the entire play.

The costumes were provided by student actors.

They were able to pick from their own wardrobe what they thought suited their character best.

Boone was played by Dillon Lopez, an 18-year-old senior.

Lopez said that this show was challenging, mostly due to the pressure of playing the role of someone with autism.

“I definitely faced difficulty … like how not to offend people and how to go into a very mature way of doing it,” Lopez said.

Lopez added that his director sent him YouTube videos about an autistic boy, it helped him embody the mannerisms of the character.

Some mannerisms he studied included how the boy reacts in situations when things do not go his way.

Most of the cast made a point to shed light on the importance of the distinction between the role of a disabled and Lopez.

Shawn Clayton, a 17-year-old senior, played the role of Christopher Boone’s father.

The play depicts several scenes in which Clayton’s character becomes frustrated with Christopher and goes as far as lying to him in order for him to be quiet.

“I think I connected myself a lot to my twin brother who is on the spectrum,” Clayton said. “So I wasn’t playing the character who’s autistic, but just knowing how he is and how a parent would react to him is what I learned in this preparation process.”

This show in particular was the high school’s extracurricular show, which differs from every other show of the year in that auditions are open to the entire student body to come and try out as opposed to it only being available to theater students.

“Since it’s like try-out instead of being in the class, it’s really only people who care and want to make a good show,” Grace Rhodes, a 17-year-old senior.

Auditions were held in December and the cast started memorizing lines and rehearsing in early January in order to prepare for their February show.

The biggest challenge that every cast member faced was memorizing lines.

Due to the short rehearsal time period along with the high demand for scene precision that this play comes with, cast members were doing everything they could to get the script down to perfection.

“We all had issues with memorizing lines and getting scene transitions down because we didn’t have them memorized,” said Lucie Higuera, a 17-year-old junior.

“We really pushed and motivated each other and in the end it came together,” she said.

Rhodes said she came up with a unique but clever approach that she said was extremely efficient.

“I make a quizlet for most of my lines to prepare for it,” Rhodes said. “Flashcards and all. I’m on stage the whole time so I kind of just read the script a lot.”

Each of the four lead student actors plan on attending a four year university with the intent of having some form of involvement with theater, whether it is theater production or acting.

The Claremont High School theater program features its next show, “Disney’s Frozen Jr.,” on Mar. 27-28 at various evening times.

Noelle Blumel can be reached at noelle.blumel@laverne.edu.

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