Ravin Patterson and Davey Collins 

The not-so-curious stars of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

click to enlarge Ravin Patterson (left) and Davey Collins (right) co-star in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

George Prentice

Ravin Patterson (left) and Davey Collins (right) co-star in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The creative team at Boise Contemporary Theater isn't sparing with its use of the word "ambitious" in describing its 2018-19 season and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

"BCT begins its most ambitious season ever with its most ambitious show ever," reads the company's press release, announcing that its season opener was a resounding critical and box office smash on London's West End before taking Broadway by storm and winning the Tony award for Best Play.

Leading BCT's cast of The Curious Incident is 20-year-old Davey Collins, who is tasked with one of the most challenging theatrical roles in contemporary drama: Christopher, an English boy who is presumably on the autism spectrum and is obsessed with solving the mystery of the brutal slaying of a dog. Along the way, Christopher reconciles his own personal mystery, unraveling a twisted bundle of life-changing secrets. New Jersey-native Ravin Patterson portrays Siobhan, a special education teacher who inspires the boy to turn his diary-like remembrances into a play.

I was fortunate enough to see this show on Broadway; I still can't shake it. To say that this play is a major undertaking for BCT is an understatement. When did this first come on your radar?

Collins: I had a general audition and then a callback, specifically for the role of Christopher, this past August.

Patterson: It was right around August for me, as well, when our director Tracy Sunderland and BCT Artistic Director Matthew Cameron Clark came to New York to conduct auditions.

Can I assume you began tackling your roles through late summer and early fall?

Patterson: I started right away on dialect.

What, specifically, is the dialect?

Patterson: Something called Estuary. It's a bit of a modern bleed of different English accents. I worked quite a bit with BCT's dialect coach, Ann Price.

Collins: I also worked on my dialect with Ann. Additionally, I had to start working with Tracy on a physical vocabulary. Plus, I did a good deal of research on neurotypicality.

Pardon the pun, but when did the two of you recognize that you were on the same page?

Collins: You just feel it when your synapses are firing on the same level. Sometimes, it's more about doing it wrong enough times until you ultimately find when you're doing it right. It's a painstaking process of elimination.

Patterson: There is a moment, truly, when it just happens.

The Curious Incident is indeed about a particular incident and a particular boy. But there's much more at stake here, right?

Collins: It's a story about love. Life is so complicated; living with other people, understanding other people, communicating with other people is so difficult. To a large degree, the show is about honesty and understanding, particularly with someone who is difficult to understand.

Patterson: It's about encouragement, not judging people. There's something special about each and every one of us. When you watch Christopher's journey, you're stepping outside of your own assumptions of what is normal.

Let's talk a bit about Christopher's challenge. In the play, Christopher doesn't have a formal diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum.

Collins: It turns out that my mom is a special education teacher, so I actually grew up knowing a bit about physical [and] mental disorders. I really enjoyed researching this and growing my own perspective. What was so great for me was staring with the movement. The lines and the actual character of Christopher came next.

Patterson: And I also come from a family of teachers. My mom, my sister, my brother-in-law: They've all worked with special-needs children.

Can I assume that you're emotionally and physically spent following a performance of this show?

Collins: It's very demanding, and I have to take care of myself. That said, if something happens to me, the show still goes on. I just have to make sure that nothing is going to go wrong on my end.

Do have particular day-of-show routines or, for that matter, traditions or even superstitions?

Patterson: I like to journal in the morning, and quite coincidentally, yesterday I wrote something down: "Don't be superstitious." In the past, I had these little things that I would do, but now, I'm trying to be open and just listen to my body and be in tune with what's happening. So now, in the morning, I wake up early, play some classical music, go through all my notes. I'm just trying to get as much peace on the inside as possible.

Collins: Mindfulness is really important.

Davey, you're in a unique position here at BCT because a good chunk of your formative years were here in Idaho.

Collins: Boise is in this awesome transitional phase right now and the city is yearning for more theater. Here at Boise Contemporary Theater, they're really pushing the envelope.

Not to put any more pressure on you, but expectations are very high. The reviews from London and New York were off-the-chain amazing.

Collins: This play really reminds us why some stories belong on the stage and not in front of a camera. It takes advantage of this medium in such an elegant way.

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