Waxahachie theatre students landed district and bi-district championships in the University Interscholastic League One-Act Play competitions.
Five outstanding student-actors were also recognized during the bi-district round. The thespians are now on their way to the area contest.
This year, Waxahachie High School is performing “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” a novel written by Mark Haddon. The perspective is through the main character, Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old autistic boy. What starts as the mystery of how his dog was murdered with a pitchfork, turns into Christopher finding his supposedly dead mother.
“He [Christopher] reacts different to things, and I think throughout this journey they [students] are finding that Christopher isn’t that much different from us,” Waxahachie theatre director Andy Reynolds pointed out. “Sometimes to get perspective through things through a different set of eyes; that’s been my theme with this show, for the audience to see things from a different perspective.”
The performance scored WHS a pair of championships with five students individually recognized.
UIL judges awarded senior Emmeline Sullivan for honorable mention, junior Sam Linguist received Best Actor, sophomore William Deen received the All-Star Tech award, and senior Katy Wilson and Caleb Barnett won All-Star Cast.
Sullivan played the supposedly dead mother, Judy Boone, who couldn’t handle her relationships with her husband and son. After she ran off with another man, her son Christopher is led to believe she died.
She admitted this was the most challenging role, playing a middle-aged woman who isn’t the most likable character. But to find her character, she channeled Linguist’s fictional-mother to find compassion in the role.
“Through this role, I’ve learned to value the relationships I have,” Sullivan explained. “Judy gives up easily and is an unlikable character. So I’ve learned to value my relationships no matter how hard they get. Through her character development through the show, it shows how much she struggles. I don’t ever want to go through something like that.”
Linguist played the lead role, Christopher Boone. With the unique character of an autistic teenager, Linguist watched several movies to prepare for his role. His mother is also a pediatrician, which gave him a better understanding of the disability.
The quote, “people aren’t his first priority,” stuck with Linguist in helping him understand his character better. A lot of the time, Christopher lays in a ball, screaming. Linguist found this acting quite pleasant.
“I was really happy because a lot of other students from my school got them,” Linguist shared. “It was also nice seeing them recognize someone playing someone who has autism or any type of mental disability or challenge they go through as not just the Gilbert Grape kind of thing. They recognized it which made me very happy.”
Barnett shared the title All-Star Cast with Wilson. This was his first role in the one-act play, which felt like a mixture of excitement and confusion. Barnett plays the role of Ed Boone, Christopher’s father.
In the production, Barnett learned about the frustrations parents go through and how their child’s behavior is a reflection of them as parents, instead of the individual child.
“I’ve learned how frustrated a parent can get, especially when Ed is the father of a child who has autism and he wants to connect with his child in a certain way but doesn’t know how to,” Barnett elaborated. “I can see that my parents whenever they are disappointed in me it’s a reflection of them. Rather than them being mad at me, they think they’ve messed up, and that’s what I’ve taken out of this whole show.”
Barnett mentioned this production is quite different from the previous ones because the storyline focuses on the characters. He said anyone who watches the play would be able to relate to a character or know someone with their traits.
“It’s been incredible to see the impact it’s had. When we had the school performance, you could hear a pin drop; the students were fully invested in the story,” Barnett said.
Wilson said she was very excited about winning All-Star Cast, playing the role of Ciovan, who is predominately the narrator of the play amongst other roles. She said it was Reynolds’ suggestion of watching the original Ciovan in a BBC interview that opened her eyes to her character. Wilson thanked Reynolds for sharing the video with her to gain the insight she needed to receive the All-Star Cast recognition.
“The script is not fantasy-ful like last year’s “We Kill Monsters,” with fighting dragons. It’s not a comedy, even though it has comedic aspects, and it’s not a hard drama like we did my sophomore year. This time, it’s real. We are playing real characters that are flawed,” Wilson reflected.
“I’m very proud of them," Reynolds acknowledged. "This is definitely the movie in my mind. It’s exceeded that. The great thing about having exceptional high school artists is that sometimes what you might have envisioned and them throwing in their own artistic balance into the mix and come up with that beautiful story and pictures. It’s collaborative.”
Tech-wise, this production involves an abundance of projections on set. Deen was awarded All-Star Tech for his precision. He said this is the most advanced show he’s worked.
“In my aspect of things, everything has to be spot on, and if it’s off, everyone can tell. The entire show pretty much depends on it,” Deen relayed.
When awarded All-Star Tech, it assured him his hard work is paying off.
The UIL One-Act Play contest has to be an 18-to-40-minute performance that’s judged by three judges or one judge critic. At each level of competition, a judge awards individual acting awards as well as select three productions to advance to the next level.
Waxahachie High School will compete in the area contest today, Wednesday, March 28 in Keller.
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450