JJ is 17 years old and a junior in high school. He was 14 when he got his first professional theatre job. He has also done some film work and was Burt in the webseries, School Bus Diaries.
Is this your first professional theater production? Can you tell me about the experience?
- This is not my first professional theatre production. This is actually my 2nd as an actor. And I’ve teched two other professional shows.
I was Scut Farkas in A Christmas Story at Garden Theatre. I was scenic run crew chief for Billy Elliot. And spotlight operator for Flashdance there as well. All those experiences were great! I learned so much more about the process and myself. I think it’s beneficial to experience both the acting and the technical side. It gives you more skills and more ways to work in the theatre. I still keep in touch with the cast and crew from A Christmas Story and we have reunions every so often. For CIDN, rehearsing in a different place other than Stageworks, was new to me. But it worked out very well. The blocking for Christopher is very specific and every rehearsal there were new discoveries and laughter. I really enjoy working with everyone. They are all so kind and accepting. Communication has been the best of any production I have ever done. I have very few questions and know what is expected of me, where I am to be, and what I am to be doing.
How do you feel you are similar to your character, Christopher, and different?
- Ways I am similar to Christopher:
– We both like Animals
-We both stim. It’s something most people do to find a way to relax, though it’s usually more observable in autistics. He counts prime numbers, squared cardinal numbers, and fans his fingers with his parents. I pace, play video games, and sing.
-For both of us, it’s hard to make friends.
-We both have trouble understanding sarcasm and things with hidden meaning.
-We both have black and white thinking.
-I like repetition. Christopher has his routines.
-Doing things for the first time take us both out of our comfort zones.
Ways not like Christopher:
-I like warm hugs like Olaf. Christopher doesn’t like to be touched.
-I like to be seen. Christopher doesn’t
-I like to wear loud shirts that get noticed.
-I rarely wear a jacket.
– I don’t rock but use to as a child.
-Learning the prime numbers was NOT calming. It was very stressful and the hardest part of the script to memorize.
-I look for a toilet or hold it. Christopher just let’s it go, (another Frozen reference)
-I don’t call people stupid or think I’m superior to anyone else.
-I have a great support system. Christopher doesn’t.
-I don’t like to be on my own, prefer to be surrounded by friends and family.
-No reward system was ever used at home, unlike Christopher.
Did you read the novel?
I have dyslexia so I listened to the audiobook in the car driving to and from Garden Theatre. I could really relate to Christopher and how he felt. I think they are both done very well. There are some differences, but the main message still comes through.
What do you think audiences will learn about living with autism from this production?
I hope they learn not to judge a book by its cover. Not to judge someone based on a disability. And realize people are more capable than others may think.
What are your favorite parts of the story or your favorite scenes?
My favorite part is the last 2 scenes of the show. The one with Shioban and Christopher where he says, “Does that mean I can do anything?” I think it’s when Christopher realizes he can do more than what he’s been told he can do.
The most fun scene is Maths Appendix!! It is so fun because of the audiences reaction to it. It’s the time when we actually see Christopher being himself and truly letting loose and showing the world what he can do!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is now playing at Stageworks Theatre through December 19.