I’ve been told the play is an Alabama folktale about a boy named Wiley who faces his fears in the swamp. I assume the Hairy Man plays a significant role. I asked my sons, Noah and Henry, to share more information with me, but they claim the details are top secret.
I asked to read the script. They said no. I asked them to summarize the plot. They said no. They assured me I’ll learn everything I need to know when I see them in costume on stage next week.
Next week? I hate to think about this experience ending.
I’m grateful for this experience that includes ALL kids, even those on the autism spectrum. It’s not easy to find such an inclusive activity, one where the director has no preconceived notions about what is possible.
While I don’t know much about the play, I know my boys are enjoying their theatre experience, even when rehearsals last five hours.
For the second year they’re having the time of their lives in the theatre, surrounded and supported by peers and adults who are committed to making this experience a positive one. It’s amazing to think about the number of actors, interns, assistants, and people behind the scenes who make this summer program a reality. I’m grateful.
Sturgis Youth Theatre is one of the best things my sons have ever done – and because it’s important to them and they’ve worked so hard, they want the details of the play to be a surprise. I understand.
Needless to say, I’m anxious to see a performance.
I sat down with my two favorite actors to learn more about their summer experience at Sturgis Youth Theatre. I interviewed them separately but was surprised to discover some of their answers are similar.
Why did you decide to get involved in Sturgis Youth Theatre again this year?
Noah: Well, I enjoyed it last year when I tried it out. I decided to do it again.
Henry: Well, it was really fun and I made a lot of friends doing it. I was hoping to make a bunch more friends.
What can you tell me about Wiley and the Hairy Man in ten words or less?
Noah: It’s physical and it’s fun.
Henry: It’s active and it’s very fun.
What part do you play?
Noah: I’m part of the ensemble. My name is supposedly Pierre, but nobody mentions the name anywhere in the story whatsoever.
Henry: I play Wiley, and I play an ensemble member. The ensemble member’s name is Rex.
Gretta is the director. Can you describe her with four adjectives?
Noah: Hilarious, sugar-craving, mature (that’s not the same as “old”), smart
Henry: Funny, nice, serious, helpful
What can the audience expect?
Noah: A lot of movement.
Henry: They can expect to see lots of movement and expect to see what Gretta said. Gretta said the goal is for at least someone in the audience to pee their pants.
What is the best part about participating in theatre?
Noah: Just being around people.
Henry: One of the things I like a lot about theatre is that it can get you a lot more social if you’re not – you can meet new friends and visit with people.
What is the most challenging part about theatre?
Noah: I don’t really know.
Henry: Sometimes it’s hard to remember some of your lines. I remember that from experience last year.
Do you think theatre has changed you? If so, how?
Noah: A little bit. I’m more social.
Henry: Yes, I definitely think it has changed me. For one, it’s made me more social. Two, it’s got me involved in new things and it’s good to try new things.
Do you plan to be in theatre next year?
Noah: I’d like to be an intern, yes. An intern helps out behind the scenes and things like that.
Henry: Yes, definitely!
What would you say to someone who is thinking about being in theatre next year?
Noah: Try it!
Henry: They should definitely do it. Definitely try it!
What should people do who want to see Wiley and the Hairy Man?
Noah: Buy tickets before they are sold out.
Henry: Get tickets before they are sold out. Get them ahead of time. Try not to get them at the performances because they’re either sold out or close to being sold out.
Six performances will be held at Strayer-Wood Theatre on the University of Northern Iowa campus, July 16-19. Don't miss this great performance! Call the box office at 319-239-1540 to reserve tickets today!