Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alumnus Alexander Stuart ’17 — a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Acting with a Minor in Stage Combat — stars in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Florida Studio Theatre in downtown Sarasota, Florida. The acclaimed production runs through March 29. For tickets, click here. The Tony Award-winning play by Simon Stephens, based on the popular novel by Mark Haddon, concerns 15-year-old Christopher, a mathematics prodigy who is autistic — the role played by Stuart. After being wrongly accused of a crime, Christopher resolves to find the real culprit, struggling to navigate a world that’s stubbornly out of sync with how his mind works. Stuart previously starred in the prestigious Actors Theatre of Louisville’s production of the play last fall.
In a recent interview in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune newspaper, Stuart, 23, discussed how his own personal experience with autism has led him to be an activist for actors with disabilities. Stuart describes himself as neurodivergent, which he says means “you process information differently and you feel emotion more extremely or less extremely than others. It can go either way. It means a different brain, different from the ‘normal’ standard for people.”
“I found that theater and my own autistic brain have fed off each other very well,” Stuart says in the Herald-Tribune interview. “Doing theater is how I’ve grown as an individual and it helped me more than any therapy could. I learn about history, learn about ethics and morality and how different humans process emotion and how people express emotion and have difficulty processing that. . . . As differently abled actors we get the job done, but differently.”
Stuart also discusses how studying stage combat at the Columbia College Theatre Department helped him as an actor: “If I’m doing something, a gesture or moving, I’m able to learn the line better because I have something to associate it with. [Stage combat is] a very kinesthetic art form. It took me a long time to polish and make it look good by doing it every day, but it was something that came naturally to me.”