The USF Performing Arts Department’s fall production of “Wild Boy,” directed by Ken Sonkin, made its debut this past weekend on Oct. 18. “Wild Boy” is an adaption of Paul Collins’ book, “Not Even Wrong.” It was written by playwright, producer, and television screenwriter Oliver Goldstick (“Desperate Housewives, “Pretty Little Liars”).
Collins and his wife, Jennifer, found out that their son Morgan was on the spectrum of autism at the age of 2. “Not Even Wrong” is Collins’ memoir of being a father to a child with autism. In the book, Collins says, “autism entails disability and ability.” Morgan can read and spell, but he cannot answer to his own name. Collins describes Morgan to be in his own world where his attention is uneven. Sometimes you have his full attention, other times you are trying to get his attention.
The playwright Goldstick states, “the book is about disappointment.” He reimagines Collins’ relationship with his son as “not being about you and I laughing about the same thing. We may not have anything in common, but that doesn’t mean we’re not father and son. It’s going to be a journey on what plane we’re going to relate.”
While the book and play is Collins’ memoir, he juxtaposes his story with the eighteenth century tale of King George and Peter the Wild Boy, a mentally disabled boy found in the woods. The book and the play mixes these two realities, and shows that both experiences generate similar emotions in relating with a child with a disorder.
Johnathan Tierney, a freshmen and economics major, plays both Morgan and Peter the Wild Boy. These characters are very different in comparison to the others in the play. In preparing for the roles, Tierney said, “It’s been very difficult because I don’t really talk, and I didn’t realize how much I depended on acting with other people and building a scene with one another. I feel I’m just acting alone on stage and everyone else is reacting to me.”
Collins’ story is an investigative journey on what it means to be human and how to connect with another human being. The cast of “Wild Boy” features Sean Patrick Armstrong, Kahleif A. Bell, Tristan Boisset, T. J. Duderstadt, Lauren Giebitz, Emelyn Hicks, Amanda Moore, Alexandra Shiras, and Johnathan Tierney.
You can watch the theatrical journey of Peter the Wild Boy and the Collins’ experience with autism tonight and this weekend at Lone Mountain Studio Theater. Tickets are $5 for students with USF ID and $10 for general admission.
Thursday, Oct. 24 at 8:00 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 25 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 8:00 p.m.
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