The Department of Theatre’s winter play, Tom Griffin’s “The Boys Next Door,” will be performed Dec. 7-9 at 7 p.m. in the Ulrey Performing Arts Center. It is a 1980’s New England based play that previews four men in a group home with developmental disabilities.
The play was written to introduce people to those who have disabilities and illnesses. The cast wants to challenge the community and show people what life is like living with a disability.
“The play is funny, it’s poignant, it will make you laugh and it will make you cry,” director Dottie Frye said.
Frye said when prepping for the play, she and the cast pledged to make the production as realistic as possible. She believes the best way to put on this play is through respect and authenticity.
The cast decided to learn more about the characters by observing and working with the children at Searcy’s Sunshine School, a school in Searcy which serves students with developmental disabilities.
“The directors and teachers of the Sunshine School have welcomed us into the classrooms so we could observe and question how to properly represent our characters,” Frye said. “The Sunshine School wanted us to show a realistic view of people who have developmental disabilities. The school has been very supportive.”
Senior Jonah Turner plays a character living with schizophrenia named Barry Klemper who has lived in group homes throughout his life. Turner said the role has helped him understand disabilities better and hopes the viewers can as well.
“I have really loved the material and loved the idea of doing something challenging within our Harding community, challenging in either way of it making you think differently or giving you a new perspective,” Turner said. “We have really invested into our characters to pull it off correctly.”
Junior Jacob McAlister,said the play shows innocence, joy and the characters’ purity of heart.
“A lot of people think there is a stereotype with people who have disabilities,” McAlister said. “Going to the Sunshine School has helped us to realize we actually have a lot more similarities than differences.”
Sophomore Cordell Hutcheson and senior Duncan Michael also star in the play as two of the boys. Senior Grant Malone plays a caring social worker named Jack who looks after the boys.
Tickets for “The Boys Next Door” can be purchased for $10 at www.hardingtickets.com or at the door.