The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time: An Interview with Joshua Jenkins

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In the National Theatre’s stellar touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, actor Joshua Jenkins leads the cast as fifteen year old Christopher Boone. A graduate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Joshua’s role as “a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties” is both physically and emotionally demanding, and an unusual one amongst theatre protagonists in that his character falls somewhere on the autistic spectrum, while being brilliantly intelligent.

We spoke to Joshua about his role in Curious Incident, and the life of an actor on tour. Read the interview in full below:

The Curious Incident of the Night-TimeUK Tour
Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Migenberg

Bakchormeeboy: You’ve been playing Christopher since the first time the show’s toured around the UK. Over the show’s run, has your portrayal of the character changed at all? How have you yourself grown as an actor since taking on the role? 

Joshua: Yes I think my portrayal of the character has changed quite a lot, but of course all within the context of the play and whats been created in previous versions of this production. I deliberately didn’t want to do the exact same version that I did before as I have no interest in that as an actor, I want to do work that I find stimulating. I’ve already done that version so it was important to try and find new things. Also, I’m working with a completely new bunch of actors in this production so you have to work with what their giving you on stage otherwise it would feel out of sync and I’m not sure the connection between the characters would be there.

Joshua Jenkins (Christopher Boone) - Curious Incident International Tour. Photo by Brinkhoff Mîgenberg
Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Migenberg

Bakchormeeboy: How did you land the role of Christopher in the first place, and during the rehearsal process, how did you prepare for the role? 

Joshua: My agent put me up for the role and I auditioned about 4 times. The first couple was with the Casting Director and Associate Director Katy Rudd, Marianne Elliot was there for the 3rd audition and the 4th audition was a movement workshop with Scott Graham from Frantic Assembly which was to make sure you were physically up for the challenge of playing the role. I was fortunate to find out I got the role about 4 months before rehearsals began, so I was able to do a lot of research and learn all my lines beforehand.

Even though it’s not mentioned in the book or play that Christopher is on the Autistic Spectrum, it’s fair to say that he processes some of the traits and qualities as someone who is. So I read many books, watched several documentaries and was lucky enough to visit some schools in London to meet kids who were on the spectrum and also speak to their parents and teachers. It was incredible to hear their stories and was invaluable for when rehearsals began.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

Bakchormeeboy: Are there any similarities between yourself and your character? Why do you think Curious Incident garners so many emotional reactions in every audience, and why is it so universal?

Joshua: I think everyone can relate to Christopher in some way. The struggles of being a teenager, tough times within families and the loss of a loved one for example. Something I personally really relate to Christopher is his passion for Maths and Science and how he uses those passions to find a sort of inner peace, happiness and is able to focus his mind in a way that nothing else can. My passions aren’t the same as Christopher’s, but what I am passionate about like acting, theatre, literature and music, all help me in exactly the same way as it does Christopher. I think this show garners so many emotional reactions because its about universal themes that we all go through at some point. Its about coming of age, difference, family and love. All things we can relate to no matter where you’re from.

Joshua Jenkins (Christopher Boone), Amanda Posener, Matt Wilman and Oliver Boot. Photo by Brinkhoff Mîgenberg
Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Migenberg

Bakchormeeboy: This is the first time Curious Incident has toured Asia. What are you looking forward to most when you step foot into Singapore? 

Joshua: I’m looking forward to seeing how the Singapore audience get the jokes within the play. its a very funny and witty play and the reactions have been slightly different in every country we’ve played to it will be interesting to see how it goes down here.

Joshua Jenkins (Christopher Boone) and company Curious Incident International Tour. Photo by Brinkhoff Mîgenberg
Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Migenberg

Bakchormeeboy: In following a production on tour, particularly a cross country one, what’s one of the greatest challenges you face, and how do you deal with it?

Joshua: The biggest challenge for me personally is being away from your family and friends. Not having that stability in your life and living out of a suitcase can be quite challenging. But being in this show and getting paid to do what I love means I can’t complain too much. Im in a privileged position to be ‘in work’ and I don’t take that for granted and just try to enjoy the experience the best I can.

The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time plays at the Esplanade Theatre from 29th March to 8th April 2018. Tickets available from SISTIC

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