By Angela Li, VI Form
A Journey to My Own Version of Christopher Boone’s London
The ground spun, quite literally, on wheels beneath my feet as I looked into Siobhan’s eyes. In those few hours, this rotating stage made from plywood was not just a platform, it was a house, a classroom, and a train station. And at this moment I was not myself—I was Christopher Boone, a young man who had overcome the confines of his known reality and broadened his horizons by finding his way to London. This was the last scene in the school play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the denouement. The plywood creaked slightly under our weight, and the lights dimmed to allow glow-in-the-dark stars to shine and illuminate the final moments of this chapter. As Christopher reflected on his adventures, I saw how I had made my own journey of growth through theater.
When I first stepped foot onto the campus of my high school, I felt like a stem cell—undifferentiated and unsure of who I was to become. My own journey began when I took a chance on myself to audition for the school play. This moment was a pivotal one in the plot of my story. I would go on to perform in every production and learn of the catalytic property that theater possesses, which constantly challenges me to push myself beyond my known limits. And before I knew it, I had differentiated to become a more specialized cell and found my place in a larger tissue system.
I am bad at cackling, specifically, the sinister cackle of a plotting witch. I’d never considered that practicing high-pitched shrieks of laughter would one day come in handy until the very task dawned upon me. As I stared down at the stage directions that simply stated, “cackle,” I was overwhelmed by fear of embarrassment and social disaster. This was only the third rehearsal and the chances of making friends appeared ready to plummet. Standing there in prolonged silence with building anticipation, the gazes of my castmates felt like penetrating lasers on my face. The seemingly straightforward task was unbelievably challenging, and I found any sound I could muster stuck in my throat like a feather. When I finally uttered a few garbled sounds that had no resemblance to what I set out to do, I was ready for the floor to crack in half and swallow me whole. Laughter ensued as I’d expected but of a completely different nature than cruel and jeering mockery—people around me even gave their own terrible attempts. Soon, I was laughing alongside my friends and ready to try again. I’d realized that the theater was a safe place to take risks, and it quickly became my haven for self-improvement. I grew with every hurdle we jumped over and went on to see that initial witch’s cackle as a breeze. Later, I learned to engage in stage combat, slay mythical creatures from D&D modules, and fly in the air held up by the hands of my friends—quite literally, fly with the power of friendship. Unexpectedly, this growing confidence translated to my day to day life academically and socially as well. The theater served as my practice arena and prepared me for the real-life equivalents of cackling—whether it was contacting strangers for research opportunities or applying to be a prefect, I faced these challenges with newfound composure.
As I stood on the rotating platform, I realized that I’d not only found my place but also my family. I had differentiated to become a specialized cell, collaborating with others to serve a greater organism. My mind drifted to the little witch who was timid and afraid of embarrassment two years ago, and I was proud of how far I’d come. I’d journeyed to arrive in my own version of Christopher Boone’s London. This was only the end of a scene in my play that was far from over.
Angela Li is a VI Form boarding student from Beijing, China. She loves theater, biology, making obscure ASOIF references, and, more than anything, her friends.