The Yellow Boat sails along a clear stage

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

Mark Lyons


In CCM's Dancing at Lughnasa, Havilah Brewster plays Chris, who yearns for a commitment from Gerry (Michael Littig).



Playwright DAVID SAAR is surprised when I tell him CLEAR STAGE CINCINNATI, which is staging his play THE YELLOW BOAT (Friday through May 1, at the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third Bank Theater), is almost brand new (their first and only previous production was last fall's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). "It's a brave choice for a young company," says Saar, the artistic director of ChildsPlay, a children's theater company in Tempe, Ariz. Saar knows something about bravery: His play was inspired by the life and death of his only son, Benjamin, who was afflicted with hemophilia and AIDS, dying at the age of 8 in 1987. Saar's play, first staged in 1993, has been produced by many children's theaters in the U.S., in addition to companies in Australia, Taiwan, England, Sweden and France. Clear Stage's artistic director TROY BAUSCH saw The Yellow Boat in Chicago several years ago: "Its imagery and message changed the way I looked at the world around me. I made it my personal goal to see that this play would someday live and breathe on a stage in my hometown." Saar explains, "The point of the play is to celebrate the power and wisdom of young people. Benjamin helped to keep us focused on the point that he was living and that he would live on." Saar's son created many drawings reflecting his view of the world, and Saar surrounded himself with them as he wrote the script. "The communicative and restorative power of art is an important part of this message." The Yellow Boat is a very theatrical piece, Saar says, but it explores issues that are universal. "It deals with an illness that happens to a kid and his family, but we all have that potential, so it's interesting to see one family's solution.

It's about what you choose to do with life, rather than responding to what's thrown at you." Tickets: 513-241-7469. ...

Clear Stage has also announced its 2004-2005 season: Romeo & Juliet using high school students (Oct. 21-30); Joyful Noise about the composer Handel (Dec. 9-18); David Mamet's tale of possible sexual harassment, Oleanna (Feb. 10-19, 2005); Ordinary People, based on Judith Guest's novel (April 19-30, 2005); and Alfred Uhry's hit play, Driving Miss Daisy (June 30-July 9, 2005). ...

Brian Friel's 1990 award winner, DANCING AT LUGHNASA, is onstage this weekend at UC's College-Conservatory of Music. It's a memory play based on the playwright's youth in Ireland; Friel is a veteran writer, familiar to readers of The New Yorker for his many contributions over the years. Five sisters, mired in everyday life, don't know that things are about to change when their brother Jack returns from 25 years of missionary work in Africa. The family struggles with the comfort of their insular lives and the world beyond, especially regarding the church. Director R. TERRELL FINNEY JR. says the crux of the story is a fight "between the sacred and the profane, the holy and the pagan, the spiritual and the sensual." It's a great script, well worth seeing again. Tickets: 513-556-4183. ...

The CINCINNATI FRINGE FESTIVAL happens May 12-23, offering 30 companies in more than 70 performances. CityBeat will offer timely coverage via

Mark Lyons


In CCM's Dancing at Lughnasa, Havilah Brewster plays Chris, who yearns for a commitment from Gerry (Michael Littig).



Playwright DAVID SAAR is surprised when I tell him CLEAR STAGE CINCINNATI, which is staging his play THE YELLOW BOAT (Friday through May 1, at the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third Bank Theater), is almost brand new (their first and only previous production was last fall's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). "It's a brave choice for a young company," says Saar, the artistic director of ChildsPlay, a children's theater company in Tempe, Ariz. Saar knows something about bravery: His play was inspired by the life and death of his only son, Benjamin, who was afflicted with hemophilia and AIDS, dying at the age of 8 in 1987. Saar's play, first staged in 1993, has been produced by many children's theaters in the U.S., in addition to companies in Australia, Taiwan, England, Sweden and France. Clear Stage's artistic director TROY BAUSCH saw The Yellow Boat in Chicago several years ago: "Its imagery and message changed the way I looked at the world around me. I made it my personal goal to see that this play would someday live and breathe on a stage in my hometown." Saar explains, "The point of the play is to celebrate the power and wisdom of young people. Benjamin helped to keep us focused on the point that he was living and that he would live on." Saar's son created many drawings reflecting his view of the world, and Saar surrounded himself with them as he wrote the script. "The communicative and restorative power of art is an important part of this message." The Yellow Boat is a very theatrical piece, Saar says, but it explores issues that are universal. "It deals with an illness that happens to a kid and his family, but we all have that potential, so it's interesting to see one family's solution.

It's about what you choose to do with life, rather than responding to what's thrown at you." Tickets: 513-241-7469. ...

Clear Stage has also announced its 2004-2005 season: Romeo & Juliet using high school students (Oct. 21-30); Joyful Noise about the composer Handel (Dec. 9-18); David Mamet's tale of possible sexual harassment, Oleanna (Feb. 10-19, 2005); Ordinary People, based on Judith Guest's novel (April 19-30, 2005); and Alfred Uhry's hit play, Driving Miss Daisy (June 30-July 9, 2005). ...

Brian Friel's 1990 award winner, DANCING AT LUGHNASA, is onstage this weekend at UC's College-Conservatory of Music. It's a memory play based on the playwright's youth in Ireland; Friel is a veteran writer, familiar to readers of The New Yorker for his many contributions over the years. Five sisters, mired in everyday life, don't know that things are about to change when their brother Jack returns from 25 years of missionary work in Africa. The family struggles with the comfort of their insular lives and the world beyond, especially regarding the church. Director R. TERRELL FINNEY JR. says the crux of the story is a fight "between the sacred and the profane, the holy and the pagan, the spiritual and the sensual." It's a great script, well worth seeing again. Tickets: 513-556-4183. ...

The CINCINNATI FRINGE FESTIVAL happens May 12-23, offering 30 companies in more than 70 performances. CityBeat will offer timely coverage via citybeat.com, but to do that extra hands are needed to critique Fringe performances. If you've ever aspired to write about theater and performance art and think you understand what CityBeat readers want to read, here's your chance. Send me an e-mail ([email protected]) and tell me why you're qualified; please include a sample that demonstrates your writing and critical skills. Please use "FRINGE CRITIC" as your subject line; those selected will be notified of assignments by May 7. ...

Look for Tom McElfresh's reviews of several currently running theatrical productions in Indianapolis, exclusively at www.citybeat.com.

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