Freebie of the Week

Every community-conscious Tampa citizen has heard of the Prodigy Program, right? Right? If you haven't, you aren't paying close enough attention to the Planet's Best of the Bay issues. Expect a sound thrashing later, but for now we'll reiterate.

Created in the summer of 2000 by David Audet and Jorge Acosta (named Best of the Bay 2000's Best Additions to Suitcase City) Prodigy is a theater program designed to keep North Tampa's young minds busy after school and during summer breaks. Along with basic tutorial classes in reading, writing and 'rithmetic, the program covers the history of the arts (theater, music, dance, etc.) and encourages each child to discover and explore his or her creative niche. Beginning Thursday, May 24, nine actors — ages 12 to 17 — show off their newfound talents during Prodigy's production of The Yellow Boat.

Based on the life of Benjamin Saar, The Yellow Boat was written by Benjamin's father, David. A high-spirited child, Benjamin discovered a love and talent for art at any early age. Sadly, the boy was also a hemophiliac, and a routine blood transfusion tainted Benjamin's young body with the HIV virus. Benjamin's artistic abilities ended with his death by AIDS-related complications in 1987, at the age of 8. Thanks to his father, Benjamin's artistic vision lives on through The Yellow Boat.

Told through Benjamin's own words and art, the play celebrates the child's brief life and explores the fears, ignorance and consequences of his disease as experienced by those around him. Produced in schools and communities throughout the country, The Yellow Boat has become a means of opening dialogue with children about serious illnesses, human compassion, and the cycle of life and death. And in the case of Benjamin, the play demonstrates one small human's amazing capacity for joy and the undying strength of the human spirit.

The Yellow Boat can be seen at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, May 24-26; 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 27; 7 p.m. Saturday, June 2; and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 3, at the University Area Community Center Complex, 14013 N. 22nd St., Tampa. Although admission is free, reservations are strongly recommended. Call 813-558-5212.

—Kelli K

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.