David Moir was ecstatic upon finding out the All Dublin Acting Ensemble this summer would perform the play based on his favorite book.
That book, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon, is a murder-mystery told from the perspective of Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum.
It's a story Moir said he has loved since the sixth grade, and to be able to play Christopher Boone "was a dream come true," he said.
"I was through the roof," he said.
Moir and the rest of the company, which features 38 students from Jerome, Coffman and Scioto high schools in the cast and crew, will perform "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" beginning Thursday, Aug. 16, at Jerome.
This is the fourth year for the summer ensemble, but it is the first year the production is being sponsored by the Ohio University's Tantrum Theater, which also provided mentorship for the students.
Ohio University graduate and undergraduate students visited Coffman for three days in July and worked with the high school students on movement, fight choreography, character work and dialect, said play director Mark Mann.
The mentoring gave the high school students an opportunity to see how the college students commit to their craft, Mann said.
Emerson Santuomo, who plays Christopher's mother, Judy, said the mentoring program helped her focus on one of five monologues she has to deliver during the play.
The 17-year-old Coffman senior said one of the college students assisted her in accessing a more diverse set of emotions in a monologue that primarily conveys feelings of sadness.
A nuanced performance also was something Moir worked toward.
As for Moir, he was excited about his role, but he also was worried about his ability to portray respectfully an individual on the spectrum without being offensive or stereotypical, he said.
So he did his research.
Books by authors on the spectrum helped Moir put himself in their shoes, he said. Watching YouTube videos in which people explained their disabilities or how they lived day to day provided insight into how to move his body and interact with other characters.
Moir reached out to friends on the spectrum and friends with siblings on the spectrum to get feedback on his physicality and line delivery.
"They helped a lot," he said.
Another way he prepared, Moir said, was by wataching videos about the playwright, Simon Stephens, and the actors who have portrayed Christopher.
Moir also reached out to the Autism Society of Central Ohio. The organization will provide materials, such as fidget cubes and noise-canceling headphones for those on the autism spectrum who attend the ensemble's performances of the play, which presents a sensory environment from the perspective of someone on the spectrum.
The show uses all the elements of theater, including light, sound, music and projection, Mann said, and is likely the most technically advanced show he has done for high school students.
Mann said the audience would be seated close to either side of the stage to be immersed in the production, which features projections to illustrate a mind of someone on the spectrum who processes the world in a very visual way.
The production gives insight into a segment of the population with whom some audience members might not be familiar, Mann said.
For Moir, the production is his opportunity to advocate for a cause.
"It's such a beautiful story with such a beautiful message," he said.
Students will perform "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" at 8 p.m. Aug. 16 and 7 p.m. Aug. 17 and 18 at Jerome, 8300 Hyland-Croy Road, and 7 p.m. Aug. 23-25 at Coffman, 6780 Coffman Road. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults, and they can be purchased at the door.