By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
A story of a young boy’s struggle with a life-threatening illness is set to take the stage at the Jerry L. Davis Theatre on the Oklahoma State University campus Tuesday.
“The Yellow Boat” is the story of playwright David Saar’s true life experience with his son, Benjamin, who was born with congenital hemophilia.
“His son was diagnosed with hemophilia and he was going for blood transfusions and he contracted HIV,” said Sally Sparks, an OSU graduate student in the theatre department and the director of the local production. “And it’s the story of Benjamin’s life up to when he died a little bit past the age of 8-years old.”
Sparks said the story is written through Benjamin’s eyes. She said the play is based around a serious subject, but provides people with moments they can laugh with and have fun. Sparks describes Benjamin and his artistic abilities.
“He was a young artist and in the play we get to see Benjamin learn to make a line and then he learns to make a squiggle, a spiral and some shapes,” she said. “And then he uses those skills and he begins, in a way, to color the story of his life.”
This idea is demonstrated through the set pieces, which are are completely white. Much of the story is told in a hospital setting. The white setting serves two purposes, she said. One is to convey the sterile hospital room.
“The other is to provide a completely white canvas that Benjamin can use to tell his story,” he said.
Benjamin copes with the disease using his imagination. Viewers will see lights come into play to illustrate the effect.
“The lights are helping a great deal,” he said. “It’s wonderful because of the complely white set. A couple of colored lights help set the stage.”
She said the stage begins to be flooded with various lights when Benjamin is in his full imagination.
The cast of six includes OSU students Baily Moorhead as the mother, John Leos as the father and 19-year-old Andee Aulbaugh as Benjamin.
“She’s really had to wrap her head around it because there’s a fine line between impersonating an 8-year-old boy and being very cute and what adults would think an 8-year-old would be like and then actually wrapping her mind around the mentality of an 8-year-old boy struggling with this illness,” she said.
The play runs from Tuesday to Oct. 21 with no production on Oct. 20. Tickets are $5 at the door. The show begins at 7:30 each night.
“It’s not so much an AIDS play as it is a story about a father and his son,” Sparks said.
“And that’s what we’re trying to focus on, is a celebration of life. It will be sad at moments, but it will be worth it because we will make you laugh as well.”
Sparks added that the show is suitable for adults and children.
“We do hope that families will come,” she said. “We think this would be a great opportunity for families to come and see something with their kids.”