Theater B turns into a graveyard, friendship dangles

All the Yellows dives into two high-school graduates’ lives and the séance they perform in order to find closure in the passing of one of the persons’ mother.


Tate Hildyard

The cast and crew for All the Yellows stage a dress rehearsal on Monday, January 21, 2019. All the Yellows is an original theater piece written, directed, produced, and performed, by current University of Iowa students. (Tate Hildyard/ The Daily Iowan)

Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Reporter

Set in a graveyard, Oakley and Patience — mainly Patience — conduct a séance in order to reach Oakley’s deceased mother. As in most spooky cases, plans go awry, an unexpected visitor ascends. All the Yellows, a UI play written by Eileen Campbell, will prèmiere on Friday at 8 p.m. in the Theater Building’s Theater B.

Oakley’s mother has committed suicide, leaving only an ambiguous note for him and best friend Patience to mull over. The pair have just graduated from high school and have set out on a final adventure in order to give Oakley closure and, perhaps, save their friendship.

“I wrote this play as a response to not seeing a lot of coming-of-age stories that include females and queer people,” Campbell said. “A lot of it is the characters figuring out their sexuality in unconventional ways.”

All the Yellows dives deep into dark elements of psychology, so the three-person cast, playwright, and director sat down to examine their thoughts and feelings about the script.

“I love directing plays that have meat to them and are not shallow,” Director Aimee Townsend said. “We spent a week poring over the script, making sure that we know where the characters are emotionally standing.”

And with a small production, certain aspects of the play are checked off in different ways.

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“Sitting at the read-through and taking it at face value was important. It’s a very intimate show; it allows you to be vulnerable,” saidLaura Brightman, who plays Patience. “There were great one-on-ones and lots of character work. We knew it was a safe place to explore those themes.”

As Patience takes control of the séance, the audience begins to detect that she indulges in making mountains out of mole hills.

“She’s outrageous and afraid and has bad experiences,” Brightman said. “She likes to spin a yarn, but it helps her feel grounded and deal with those experiences.”

Oakley is the polar opposite and is seen dealing with his grief through the entire play. Both can feel their friendship coming toward a crossroad, and with the current situation and social constructs, both are unsure of what path to take.

“They had been long-term best friends,” Townsend said. “They met when they were 8, but society often pushes men and women into sexual relationships. Patience and Oakley are feeling like if they are to stay friends, they’d have to be something more.”

The meaning of touch and holding on also echo from the graveyard stage of Theater B.

All the Yellows focuses on holding on and the length that people will go for the people they care about,” Campbell said. “The exploration of sexuality and body and what it means to be touched in different ways.”

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