Playwright Simon Stephens did not arrive out of nowhere when his first Broadway play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” won five Tony Awards, including best play of 2015. That success came from scribbling away for roughly 15 years in the vibrant London theater scene, where the play’s world premiere led to a record-tying seven Olivier Awards. Based on the bestselling 2003 novel by Mark Haddon, the eccentric drama runs for a limited time at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Sept. 12-17.
For the Sept. 13 performance at 7:30 p.m., the Register Book Club is offering $25 orchestra terrace tickets. There will be an exclusive talk with cast members post-performance for those with the Book Club tickets, and $5 from each sale goes to support the center’s sensory-friendly programming for children and adults with special needs.
Working with director Marianne Elliott, (“War Horse”), Stephens delivers a vibrant though minimalist take on the story of Christopher Boone, a 15 year old with a condition that might be Asperger syndrome (although that’s never defined in the book) whose quest to find the killer of his neighbor’s dog takes him on a boundary-defying journey to London for answers.
Stephens reflects on the challenges of translating Haddon’s novel to the stage, and working with director Marianne Elliott, with whom he’s re-teaming for a new production of his current two-hander, “Heisenberg.”
Q: Which were particularly problematic points in adapting the novel to the stage?
A: I’d never made an adaptation before and my approach was technical. I worked exclusively, closely with Mark’s book. I kind of scoured its pages for direct speech. I paid great attention to the moments that were action more than moments of observation. I guess the biggest challenge can be the authorial voice, which has such gorgeous kind of observation in it. But observation isn’t very dramatic. What makes something dramatic is behavior, not thoughts. The approach was to find it all in the novel. I’ve invented very, very little. All I’ve really done is release the drama from the novel.
Q: You turned to Siobahn, the teacher, to carry much of the exposition. Was she a big part of the book?
A: No, she’s only in the book for like three paragraphs. What struck…