By Tim Leeds 

MAT sets auditions next week for 'Boys Next Door'


The local acting troupe is setting up for a future play — which looks at dealing with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses — and is holding auditions for the play Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

The auditions for Tom Griffin's "Boys Next Door" will start at 5:30 p. m. each day at the Little Theatre in Cowan Hall at Montana State University-Northern.

"Basically, the play shows how the people with disabilities teach their helper, " Pam Veis, who is directing the play for Montana Actors' Theatre, said this morning. "It's very poignant, and, many times, somewhat funny. "

The play — originally published in 1983 under the title "Damaged Hearts, Broken Flowers" — and reissued with the current title in 1988 — tells the story of four men with developmental disabilities or mental illness living in a group home.

A primary character is the man who provides care for the four men in the group home, who struggles with his ability to deal with the situation — and other issues in his life.

"He is a burnt out but compassionate social worker, " Veis said.

The play addresses serious issues, although often uses humor in its treatment of the issues.

"It's not a comedy, " Veis said. "It's a drama, but it has some moments of humor. "

She said she has roles for nine men and four women.

"So I will need a lot of men to audition, " Veis added.

Acting in the play will be very challenging, she said. She wants the portrayals to be as authentic as possible.

Veis said she believes her experience as a caseworker at the Center for Mental Health could help her in directing the portrayal of the man with severe schizophrenia.

She will consult with the director of the Havre Day Activity Center and with the family of a man with developmental disabilities to help in the portrayal of the characters with those disabilities, she said.

"The two are very distinct, very different, " Veis said, adding that the general public often confuses mental illness and developmental disabilities.

"The characters will be difficult to portray, " Veis said. "It is a terrific play, and it would be a terrific challenge for any actor. … The challenge is to be very authentic and not overact. It's going to take a lot of good character acting. "

MAT plans to run the play in March.


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