Autistic Actor to Lead THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME at Syracuse Stage
The Indiana Repertory Theater (IRT) and Syracuse Stage will welcome Seattle-based actor Mickey Rowe as Christopher John Francis Boone in "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Simon Stephens, which won a Tony Award for Best New Play.
Rowe will be the first American autistic actor to play Christopher Boone, a character who demonstrates autistic behaviors.
IRT and Syracuse Stage are among the first regional, non-profit theatres to receive the rights to produce "Curious Incident," and Rowe leads an exciting and multiracial cast of actors representing New York, Indianapolis and Chicago.
This complex piece of theatre will run at IRT from Sept. 19 through Oct. 14 and at Syracuse Stage from Oct. 25 through Nov. 12.
"Collaborating with Syracuse Stage allows us to take on this massive production with greater resources and strength. After casting in four cities to find a Christopher to lead out the production, we are particularly delighted to have found and cast Mickey, a multi-talented Seattle-based professional actor who is himself a member of the autistic community. He has been a strong leadership voice among the disabled community, advocating for the casting of disabled actors to play characters with disabilities, fulfilling the community's motto, 'Nothing about us without us,'" said Janet Allen, Executive Artistic Director at IRT. "Mickey is the first American actor with autism to take on the role of Christopher in this monumental play, which will not only deepen and authenticate the work onstage, but will provide a role model for thousands of autistic children and young adults."
"The young actors in this country who have a disability need to see positive role models who will tell them that if you are different, if you access the world differently, if you need special accommodations, then theatre needs you! The world needs you," said Rowe. "It is such an honor to represent the autistic community at the beautiful and incredible Indiana Repertory Theatre and Syracuse Stage. I am excited to be the first American actor to portray Christopher because I have experienced some of the same challenges he has."
Although Rowe had intensive speech therapy throughout elementary and middle school, he did not receive a formal diagnosis until he was a young adult. Rowe explained the importance of having people with autism see themselves represented appropriately on stage and in media.
"There is a lot of misinformation and stereotype around autism," said Rowe. "All too often we learn about autism from non-autistic people instead of going straight to the source and learning about autism from autistic adults. Everyone should be able to go to the theatre or turn on their TV and see somebody like them, someone who thinks like them."
Artistic director of Syracuse Stage Bob Hupp said he is also excited for the opportunity to collaborate with IRT and is looking forward to having Rowe play the lead role.
"He's not only a skilled actor, but also physically accessible," said Hupp. "The role of Christopher is very demanding intellectually, emotionally and physically, and I believe that Mickey brings all of that to the table through his passion and authenticity as an actor."
Rowe has been in nine productions at the Seattle Opera and five productions at Seattle Children's Theatre. He has collaborated on and performed in world premiere productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is a skilled stilt walker, juggler, unicyclist, tight ropewalker, fire breather and trained puppeteer with extensive combat experience. Rowe's directing and acting work can be seen at Arts on the Waterfront, a program that seeks to improve the quality of living for Seattle's waterfront residents by bringing live entertainment to the area.
The director of "Curious Incident," Risa Brainin, saw a video of Rowe displaying his many talents as a performer and was impressed.
"We were immediately taken with his rendition of Christopher. We then explored his website and discovered he has phenomenal movement skills. I was blown away by two video clips: elements from a beautiful devised piece based on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and a hilarious 3.5 minutes of Mickey juggling knives while riding a unicycle! We all agreed he was our leading candidate for the role, so IRT and Syracuse Stage flew me to Seattle to meet him," said Brainin. "After spending time with Mickey, there was no question in my mind that he was the right person for the role. He is a wonderful actor, a joy to work with and brings a deeply personal understanding of Christopher's autism to the role. I could not be more thrilled with the choice of Mickey Rowe for Christopher."
"Curious Incident" was originally a novel by Mark Haddon before it was adapted into a play. The story revolves around 15-year-old Boone who goes on an investigation to find the culprit behind the murder of his neighbor's dog. Haddon also wrote a book of poetry called "The Talking Horse and The Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea" and won awards both for his radio dramas and television screenplays including "The Wild House" and "Microsoap."
Founded in 1971, the IRT is the largest and professional not-for-profit theatre in the state and one of the leading regional theatres in the country. The mission of the Indiana Repertory Theatre is to produce top-quality, professional theatre, and engage, surprise, challenge and entertain people throughout their lifetimes, helping us build a vital and vibrant community.
Syracuse Stage is Central New York's premier professional theatre in residence at Syracuse University. Founded in 1974, Stage has produced more than 300 plays in over 40 seasons including a number of world, American, and East Coast premieres. Each season 70,000 patrons enjoy an adventurous mix of new plays, and bold interpretations of classics and musicals, featuring the finest theatre artists. In addition, Stage maintains a vital educational outreach program that annually serves more than 15,000 students from 14 counties. A solid core of subscribers and supporters helps keep Syracuse Stage a vibrant artistic presence in Central New York. Additional support comes from the government, foundations, corporations and Syracuse University. Syracuse Stage is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Arts and Cultural Leadership Alliance (ACLA), the University Hill Corporation and the East Genesee Regent Association. Syracuse Stage is a member of The League of Resident Theatres (LORT), the largest professional theatre association in the country.