By Steve Odenthal
One of the very best things that can occur in a Theatre environment is the development of new voices and the emotional adventures those new voices beckon us to. That process always starts with a need, and then an exploration of possible answers, better put, a Workshop. Our community, like so many across the nation, has been affected by
In an effort to open a dialogue and address the situation which crashed down upon them, three young playwrights collaborated on a workshop of their new work, Flamboyant Occasion at the Brigham City Fine Arts Center March 7,8,9 & 11 2019 with the performance starting at 7:00 PM each night. For Colton Kraus, Anni Molgard, and Heather Karren life became distorted last year as one of their own, a fellow student and beloved friend who seemed to have it all, Jeremy Shipp, chose to depart, leaving them to question and grasp. Their script is a result of what they came to grips with in this situation. It is not a drama or angst-ridden exploration, but almost a comedic celebration and certainly an event that their friend Jeremy would have enjoyed being a part of. This piece is a work by teens, for teens—but it gives insight that their elders will benefit from as well. It will open some doors that need to be opened as appropriate discussions are bound to continue through the evening.
I spoke with Kraus throughout this process as the three Playwrights built the script and assembled the Cast of over 30 young actors who are presently involved in this workshop production. He has specific goals for this production and hopes audiences will attend this first staging of the courtroom comedy. Flamboyant Occasion is a show meant for a broad audience, is a little out of the box, and uses glitter liberally. That does not mean you will have to dust yourself off after the production, but you will see that everyone, all of us, has at least the beginnings of a special sparkling streak inside. What we chose to do with it is very much a choice we make as our lives go on.
In Colton’s own words, “So basically it’s a courtroom comedy. With everything that is going on in the world, I feel like it is important for an audience and a cast to be able to escape for a little bit. Especially with things specific to Box Elder in the last year, there have been about 4-5 deaths that have affected people I know and even more accidents. The one that affected me the most was Jeremy Shipp. He committed suicide at the end of July. This sent a shock wave of emotions throughout Box Elder due to the large involvement Jeremy had in theatre and sports. I do not know what caused Jeremy to do the things he did, but I do know that a lot of it could have been pressure to choose between Theatre and Lacrosse. Often times in high school, guys that do theatre are seen as showy, weird, and flamboyant. I do not necessarily find that to be a bad thing. I wanted to create a show for actors that would give them a chance to go against the status quo. To show an audience that it is okay to be different. Not everything has to fit inside a little box due to other people’s standards. It should be okay to be a bit crazy now and again and show off what you got.”
I applaud these young authors and the cast who are inviting you to be part of the discussion of teen suicide. Although the atmosphere is light in this production the bigger picture and issue is still with us. The troupe invites you as an audience to be entertained but also to hear their voices and be mindful of the rifts and ravines that clutter our conversational landscapes. Let us talk about these things.
Thanks to the following authors, actors and technicians who have contributed their time and talent to this production. More importantly, let’s support them by filling the seats and taking an active part in this exercise. No one knows where this script may head, but it is enough to know that in this community these Teens took the time to raise their voices for both entertainment and love.