One of the most anticipated shows of the year, the National Theatre of Great Britain’s multi award-winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time opens in Melbourne tonight. Coinciding with this landmark production, the Arts Centre Melbourne has undertaken their largest ever Associated Program with almost fifty additional curious events designed to engage audiences and inspire the next generation of theatre makers.
Winner of seven Olivier Awards (2013) and five Tonys (2015), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is based on the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, and directed by Marianne Elliott, whose recent production of Angels In America, was screened in Australia via NT Live.
The Curious Incident tells the story of Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year old boy with an exceptional ability for math, but has by his own admission ‘behavioural difficulties’ and struggles to connect with people. When his neighbour’s dog is found murdered, Christopher is initially suspected of the crime. Against the wishes of his father, he undertakes some detective work of his own to try and find out what happened, but what he discovers turns his world upside down.
The story is told in first person narrative, and in adapting the novel for the stage, the creative team were challenged to see the world of the play through Christopher’s eyes. As a result, every aspect of the visual and audio design reflects his unedited view of the world (including 38,000 individual video files!), to create an immersive experience for audiences.
One of the team responsible for the Associated Program is Joshua Cowie, Producer with the Arts Centre’s Creative Learning Team. “At it's core the show is a murder mystery,” Cowie explains, “but because of Christopher’s inability to judge the world particularly well, he has to overcome some obstacles in dealing with other people and venturing beyond his safe environment.”
The themes of the play and the magnitude of the artistic and technical challenges involved, provide plenty of scope for creative exploration, making this production an ideal catalyst for Cowie and the Arts Centre’s Creative Learning Team. The result is the largest and most extensive Associated Program yet undertaken by the Arts Centre, and includes an unprecedented range of talks and workshops, as well as opportunities for the creation of new works inspired by the play.
As Cowie points out, the international success of the show, meant that The Curious Incident could easily have sustained a commercial run without the additional events. But the opportunity to engage with the broader community, was one of the reasons that National Theatre of Great Britain was keen to bring the show to Melbourne, and a driving factor behind the extensive Associated Program.
The Program offers plenty of opportunities for the general public to get involved – from pre and post show forums with the cast and creatives, to the full Curious Incident Experience, where participants spend a Sunday morning exploring the world of the play and the process of adapting the novel for the stage, followed by a backstage tour and finishing with lunch at a secret locale within the Arts Centre.
Local artists have the opportunity to work with the internationally renowned creative team responsible for producing the show, including a 3-day playwright incubator with the shows adaptor Simon Stephens, a 2-day workshop with the composer Adrian Sutton, or the Design Academy in which participants work with professionals to reimagine the set, video and sound design to create an engaging foyer installation. Members of renowned physical theatre company Frantic Assembly, will also run movement workshops. An extensive schools program is also planned, with special Maths Inspiration workshops extending as far as Ballarat and Warrnambool.
Operating out of The Channel (formerly known as the Black Box Theatre), the Arts Centre’s Creative Learning unit seeks to encourage arts learning through community participation, highlighting the unique power of live performance. Throughout the year, The Channel plays host to a number of innovative participatory programs, ranging from Hip Hop mentoring, magic workshops, a music therapy program and a theatre scratch night where participants can try out new works or techniques in front of a live audience. As Cowie says, “we’re interested in creating community connections, bringing people who are interested in the same things, into the same space.”
The National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time opens January 11, 2018 and is jointly presented by the Arts Centre Melbourne and the Melbourne Theatre Company. The production builds on the success of previous collaborations, including acclaimed productions of War Horse (2013) and One Man, Two Guvnors (2013). If you are interested in seeing the show, you’ll need to be quick as tickets are selling fast!
As Cowie says – “it's gonna be a great show – and a show like we’ve never seen before.”
For further information about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the Associated Program, visit artscentremelbourne.com.au
Top Left – Joshua Jenkins and company. Photo – Brinkhoff Mögenburg
Bottom Left – Joshua Jenkins. Photo – Brinkhoff Mögenburg