Just Say ‘Oh’
Ever wanted to witness a live exorcism?
What about participate in an all-inclusive, non-binding marriage ceremony?
Are half your friends old, out-of-touch, anti-war, peacenik hippies?
You’ll feel right at home in the audience of the Black Sheep Theatre’s newest play.
“Just Say ‘Oh’” can be seen in Appalachian State University’s Belk Library on May 3 and 4 and is the latest production by the 20-year-old Black Sheep Theatre. The play is writer Dennis Bohr’s exploration of the upbringing and sexual education of a Catholic altar boy.
“We do original political theater,” Bohr said, explaining the mission that has guided Black Sheep Theatre from its start in Louisville, Ky., in 1992.
He founded the theater with his former graduate school classmates, Georgia Rhoades, also a writer, and Mary Anne Maier, who directs most of Black Sheep’s plays.
In addition to performances in Boone, Black Sheep performs in Derry, Ireland, every other year and has also toured shows to various other European locations. Bohr and Rhoades, both ASU professors in the Writing Across the Curriculum program, visit Derry every year as resident artists, teaching theater and writing.
Rhoades and Bohr write the scripts for this grassroots theater, which Bohr refers to as a “negative profit” organization. They describe their scripts as overtly political and collaboratively created. After a private reading of a new script, they incorporate feedback before holding a public reading. Black Sheep Theatre produces a new show once a year.
“Just Say ‘Oh’” is about Catholicism, which also pertains to the group’s name. “All of us but Georgia were Catholic,” Bohr said, explaining that he and Maier did not fit in well with that religious tradition.
Because of their outsider status and the prominent sheep references in Catholicism, they used the name, “Black Sheep.”
Other Black Sheep shows are “Maceth: The Play That Dare Not Speak Its Name,” about the futility of war and the nature of storytelling; “Pope Joan: The Hiss of the Snake,” which explores traditional Catholic attitudes toward women; and the aforementioned “Old, Anti-War, Out-of-touch, Peacenik Hippies.” That label was used derogatorily toward Rhoades and Bohr because of their opposition to the United States’ bombing of Afghanistan.
“We considered that high praise and appropriated the title,” Bohr said.
Most of Black Sheep Theatre’s productions deal with topical and controversial subjects. Bohr warns that their plays are for adults only, and, perhaps, not all adults. “If they are offended by explicit language, they shouldn’t come,” Bohr said.
Rhoades added, “We’re not trying to offend … it’s satire. It’s to point out that what is offensive to some is not to others.”
“Just Say ‘Oh’” is presented May 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. in Room 144 of the Belk Library and Information Commons and the Appalachian State University campus. Parking is available in the College Street parking deck directly adjacent to the library.