Wylie senior Eric Evans can relate to Wylie’s entry into the 2018 UIL One-Act Play Competition, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.”
No, he has never found a murdered dog, which is what happens to the play’s main character Christopher Boone. But like Christopher, Eric has struggled with autism.
“I do see lots of similarities between us,” says Eric, who has Asperger’s Disease, a high functioning form of autism. “But I’ve learned to deal with it after years and years of therapy.”
Eric is part of this year’s one-act play cast. He says that performing on stage serves as therapy and helps him express his emotions, something the subject of the play has trouble doing.
Wylie performed its play at the district meet in February winning the district championship and advancing to the bi-district round of the UIL competition. Wylie won district for the 7th consecutive time.
Also, Corban Gililland was named Best Actor for his portrayal of Christopher. Jared Vos Winkel was named to the All-Star Cast, and Anna-Claire Boone and Olivia McCain were named to the Honorable Mention All-Star Cast.
Corban said the role of Christopher has proven challenging.
“I have done a lot of research about autism and how to relate to that,” he said. “This is different than any show that we have done. It is so much more creative. The scenes just come alive.”
This year’s play is a modern play, as opposed to last year’s Macbeth. It is also different in that it has no set other than a series of black boxes that contain costume changes and other props.
After advancing to regionals each of the past two years, this year’s cast and crew are hoping to finally clear that final hurdle and qualify for state. Corban said he hopes the uniqueness of this year’s play and some creative sound and music will catch the eye of judges.
“We’ve always been very strong in our acting,” he said. “I feel like what we have been lacking is our technical side. This show is incredibly tech-leaning. I hope that having those two things together really impresses the judges.”
Stage Manager Nicole Wilkins said she believes the sound and music for this play are critical because of the lack of a set. The technical side helps set the stage.
“I think it’s really important,” she said. “We help show different colors that represent different emotions. Our sound also shows what’s going on in Christopher’s head.”
Eric understands those emotions better than most. Like the main character, Eric is a genius at math, has trouble with eye contact and has difficulty expressing emotions. Although the play has a happy ending, Eric said it is difficult to watch the struggles that Christopher endures.
“It kind of hurts a little,” Eric said. “I hate that autism defines who he is. It’s just a small part of his character. He is limited by it, but I don’t think he should be defined by it.”
The one-act play is much different than other productions, and students say they love being a part of it.
“It’s a competition, so it’s not just for fun,” said Olivia McCain. “It’s serious. One-act play is my favorite. It’s really fun to travel and get to perform for multiple judges.”
The travel and long weeks of rehearsals make the cast like family.
“The one-act play is a lot more tight knit,” said Jared Vos Winkel. “We get a lot closer. I look forward to it every year. One-act has the highest highs and the lowest lows.”
One-act play competition is fierce and just to get to regionals is tough. First Wylie must compete at bi-district and then area and finally regionals. Only the top eight plays in all of 4A qualify for state.
“Every year we are like this is the year,” Jared said. “We want to get to state. But with this show, my goal is to win state. I have so much faith in it.”