Stegosaurus (Or) Our Golden Years looks at the Earth


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This winter, there has been a lot of buzz about viruses, particularly the flu, sweeping the country. At least when people weren’t talking about the weather.

In his upcoming play Stegosaurus (Or) Our Golden Years, playwright Andrew Saito describes a new kind of sickness — one inflicted by humans.

“Everything is becoming more extreme [with the weather],” he said. “It really seems like the Earth is having a huge flu that we’ve caused. With the flu, the symptoms are having fever, coughing, and that’s the body trying to get the flu out of its system. I feel like the Earth is trying to get us out.”

John Kaufmann directs the play, which Saito began writing in 2007, and it will take the stage at 8 p.m. today through Saturday in the Theater Building’s Theatre B. On Feb. 21, the show will hit the boards at 2 p.m. Admission is free for UI students and $5 for others.

Saito describes the main character, Misty Michelle, as being “a bright green activist.” She is caught between the ideologies of friend Cody, who is an environmental activist, and her family (sister Toolie goes to work for an oil company in the play; her father starts a business selling grilled bald eagle, Kentucky fried canines, and other such delicacies).

UI junior Ashley Yates, who plays Misty, said she prepared for the role by placing herself in the shoes of someone whose greatest passion is misunderstood by others around her.

“I would describe [Misty] as very optimistic,” she said. “And sometimes forcefully so — but she’s really an admirable character for being able to stay with what she believes in through the hardest times.”

For Saito, the inspiration to write the play came from a desire to do more than simply live a green lifestyle. The UI graduate student — who has never owned a car — recalled growing up in Los Angeles; one year, June bugs never appeared.

Another experience that resonated with him was finding a dead dolphin on a beach in Mexico. The dolphin died because it had ingested plastic fishing line.

“I was enraged,” he said. “Nature is beautiful and pristine, and we f— it up. We try believing that our survival as a species and as a planet is separate from nature, but we need to embrace ourselves as part of nature.”

Saito says Stegosaurus has been a collaborative effort. Many revisions took place in the script during rehearsal, he said, in which he was a contributing member.

But he wants audience members to decide for themselves what they think of the play.

“I hope they’re entertained,” he said. “Beyond that, some people will probably be really down with what I’m saying. Some people might be offended, some people might think it’s shit, and some people might think it’s brilliant.”

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