Two years ago, actor Mickey Rowe said he was jazzed about the success of a new show, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
The play, an adaptation of Mark Haddon’s 2003 book, focuses on the adventures of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy who deciphers a canine murder mystery in the English town of Swindon. The play took home four different awards at the 2015 Tony Awards.
It’s a great story. But for Rowe, the play had a personal connection as well.
The play’s main character, Christopher, has autism — just like Rowe. He was excited to see a popular play put an autistic character’s narrative front and center, even though the actor playing Christopher wasn’t autistic.
Rowe himself. Photo from Mickey Rowe, used with permission.
"I think that the show has really done a lot to open people’s minds to people who think differently," Rowe told Upworthy in 2015. "It’s a bold and inspiring decision to produce a story narrated by an autistic character. I can’t wait to see where the show and the narrative of Autism Spectrum Disorder goes in the future."
Two years ago, Rowe probably couldn’t have guessed the future of the show would one day include him as well.
On May 11, the Indiana Repertory Theatre announced that Rowe will be stepping into the role of Christopher in their 2017 production of the play.
This makes Rowe not only the first autistic actor to play the role, but also one of the first autistic actors to depict any autistic character in a major production.
The Indiana Repertory Theatre. Photo from Mickey Rowe.
"I never dreamed I would get to play Christopher in this show," Rowe wrote to Upworthy after the news of his casting broke. "It is such an honor to get to represent the autism community."
"When I found out I got the role, it brought tears to my eyes," Rowe says.
This kind of representation, not just for characters but in the actors who play them, is important.
"Everyone should be able to go to the theatre or turn on their TV and see somebody like them, someone who thinks like them," Rowe writes. "Everyone should also definitely be able to go to the theatre or turn on their TV and see somebody who is very different than themselves."
There are 56 million Americans with disabilities living in the United States, according to the 2010 Census. That’s nearly 20%. But a 2016 analysis of TV shows found that less than 1% of TV characters had disabilities. Furthermore, when a story does feature a character with a disability, more than 9 times out of 10, that character is played by a non-disabled actor.
"Young actors in this country who have disabilities need to be able to see role models who will tell them that if you are different, if you access the world differently, if you need special accommodations, then the world needs you!" Rowe says.
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" featuring Rowe’s performance will run from September through November 2017.
You can check out a video of Rowe’s audition below:
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