Drama department produces play with delicate subject matter


Photo by Jocelyn Pembleton

Hope Nurnberg, Co-Editor

When the SES drama department performs “The Boys Next Door,” a play that centers around four mentally challenged men, on Feb 22 and Feb 23, the actors themselves will have a few challenges to overcome.

Ben Monday, Luke VanTassel, Treyton Sutton, and Drew Hanson will have to get into the mind space of disabled people and stay in character.

“At first, I didn’t know if I would be able to play a mentally impaired person, but the play is not making fun of them in any way. If anything, it makes you appreciate them. It might not make sense reading this, you have to watch to understand,” Hanson said.

Hanson plays Barry Klemper.

“Barry Klemper really doesn’t fit in because he is a schizophrenic. Made up of vignettes of their lives, each character–even those who encounter them–has something that handicaps him or her,” Director Mr. Anderson said.

Luke VanTassel, who plays Arnold, said he hasn’t quite morphed into his character yet.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I have found my character yet, but after I find it, I think it will be easy to get into character and practice,” he said.

Ben Monday, who plays Lucien P. Smith, said he felt comfortable being Lucien from day one but that he discovers various nuances of Lucien’s character as practices continue. 

“I have added what I need to do for my character into how I play it as I go along, and I just have to think a bit to drop into Lucien character,” he said.

This isn’t the first time that Southeast has put on this play as it was done in 1994 and 2005, but play Director, Mr. Anderson, says that there will be differences when it comes to actors’ interpretations. 

“Different actors have different interpretations.  The blocking and the set will be different in some places.  Of course, the story will basically stay the same,” Anderson said.

Because this play is about mentally disabled people, there is some touchy language and subjects involved. 

Hanson feels that this is important to the meaning of the play.

“Keeping original language in the play is essential. The whole point of language is for words to have meaning, and since we are performing and acting I think it is good we keep it in. It makes the message more powerful, and further shows why we should refrain from such language in our actual lives,” he said.

Treyton Sutton, who plays Norman, also feels that the play teaches important lessons.

“(I’m most excited) for what the play teaches,” he said.

Anderson hopes that this play will make the audience more sympathetic.

“I hope that by watching this play, the audience will be more sympathetic not only to the developmentally disabled but also toward each other,” Anderson said.