The Winner of seven 2013 Olivier Awards, this highly acclaimed National Theatre production The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time arrives at Wales Millennium Centre this week as part of its first ever UK tour.
Based on the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, the story follows Christopher, fifteen years old, has an extraordinary brain – exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, it takes him on a journey that upturns his world.
The story features two cast members that hail from Wales. Swansea’s Joshua Jenkins will play the role of Christopher while Bargoed’s Jessica Williams gets to work on both sides of the stage as Movement Captain, understudy and an ensemble cast member taking on the roles of Punk Girl and Mrs Shears.
In 2012 Jessica began working for Frantic Assembly as a practitioner. She works for them nationally and internationally, most recently co-directing the National Youth Theatre of Wales’ show Dead, Born, Grow and working with Newcastle-based company Open Clasp. Andy Howells recently chatted to Jessica about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
How did you find yourself becoming a Movement Captain?
I started in dance as a teenager and went to Ebbw Vale school to do A level dance there, then I trained in London as a dancer at the London contemporary dance school then the last couple of years I’ve been working for a dance company called Frantic Assembly a musical theatre company who make the movement for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Did you always have an interest in dance and performance?
I was in the Blaenau Gwent Youth Dance Company The Move and I used to go to Rubicon in Cardiff and Diversions now known as the National Dance Company of Wales. I’ve not done any acting until this job, so it’s a bit of a shift in direction for me.
Can you tell us about your role in The Curious Incident?
My role in the show is that I look after the movement. It’s not a musical, it’s a play. There’s a lot of music and a lot of movement and I keep an eye on all of it and keep them all on their toes, make sure they are doing everything properly look after their fitness all the warm ups and things and I’m in the ensemble of the show and say a couple of lines as well.
Did you devise the movements?
Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett who are the directors of Frantic Assembly made the movement and my job is to make everything stay just as it should so that it doesn’t change. It’s a really big opportunity for me actually its nice to be on two sides of it with the cast and working on the other side making sure things are going well.
The show is rated 11 plus and there is some swearing, is it suitable for families?
Its really at the parents discretion. There is swearing and it’s used in adult scenes but there’s younger members of the audience who still enjoy the production. It’s a really great story and you see the journey of a young person. It hits a lot of marks with different people its kind of a family show in that you could take the whole family and everyone would get something different from all of it.
Do you get home to Wales very often?
It’s been more difficult since I started this tour as we started rehearsing in November but I’ll be staying with my parents while we’re in Cardiff.
How long are you continuing with the show?
Till November, a year long contract is a great opportunity for an actor. I’ll definitely be going back to work with Frantic Assembly after I’ve finished this. It’s not certain what I’ll be doing. I could be teaching, performing or doing something creative for them.
What are you most looking forward to about your return to Cardiff?
The theatre community of Cardiff is a great bunch of people so I’m looking forward to catching up with people and seeing what’s going on. I’m also looking forward to the audiences I think they’ll love it (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.) It will be warmly received. The Millennium Centre is such an amazing venue; I remember standing on the main stage as part of a workshop performance and thinking “Wow! I’ll never get to stand here again, this is amazing!”
How would you sum up The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?
I think a beautiful story. It’s really well told in so many different ways to tell the story with the set, movement, text and actors. Josh who is playing the lead is from Swansea, so it will be his home venue as well.
- The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time runs at Wales Millennium Centre from April 14 – 18. Check wmc.org.uk for ticket details.
- A version of this interview by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 10, 2015