NOVA Center for the Performing Arts -- Billings, Montana

The Boy at the Edge of Everything

BOY_Logo BOY_Cast

The Boy at the Edge of Everything by Finegan Kruckemeyer

A NOVA Youth Conservatory Production
Director: Dan Nickerson
October 3-12, Black Box Theater


Take a trip on an intergalactic journey through space and time– a quirky and fun play that exudes a young boy’s imagination and adventure.
“A canny, witty way of reflecting on worlds unknown”- The Seattle Times

Tyler Shackelford (Simon Ives) is a 15 year old Freshman. He has recently been seen on NOVA’s stage in Big, The Musical, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Giver. “What you do in life echos in eternity.” – Spartacus (Gladiator)

Carrick Napier (Colin/The Boy at the Edge of Everything) is an 8th grader at Lockwood Middle School. Most recently he has been seen in Big, The Musical at NOVA as well as Aladdin Jr. and the Summer Showcase at BST. He would like to thank God, family, friends, the cast of this show, Miyon and Dan for letting him be a part of this. Although the theater world is new to him, he wants to be in many more shows.

Chloe Mayer (Mom / Ms C) is a 7th grade homeschooler. You may have seen her in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as the Dodo bird at NOVA. Her words of wisdom to all: “People are always too quick to judge. If you see a homeless person, you assume they’re dirty and mean; open, be nice and love each other.”

Ryland Nelson (Louie) is a 5th grade homeschool actress. Recently she has been seen on the NOVA stage in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Chicken Little as well as The Other Side of Oz for Backyard Theater. She would like to thank her family for all their support. “Life is either a darling adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Matthew Hagen (Dad) is a senior home school student. Most recently he has been seen in Spamalot at BST and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at NOVA. “When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. SO what the heck, leap.” – Cynthia Heimel

Raegan Melbur (Chloe) is 13 and attends Castle Rock Middle School. She was recently seen in A Midsummer Nights Dream and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at NOVA as well as Aladdin Jr. at BST. She wants to thank the cast, director and her mom for such a great experience.

Cruz Martinez (Michael) is a 15 year old sophomore in high school. Recently he has been seen in Shrek The Musical and Aladdin Jr. at BST as well as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at NOVA. “With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has be, otherwise it’s just not acting. It’s lying.” – Johnny Depp

Kievan Charles McCave (Artie) is 14 years old and has most been seen in The Pirate Play and How to Eat Like a Child at Venture Theatre/NOVA and The Wizard of Oz. “I reject reality and substitute my own.” – Mythbusters.

Dan Nickerson (Director) is a 30 year old graduate of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA. He is currently the Youth Director of NOVA Center for the Performing Arts. He would like to thank his family for supporting his long hours and the cast for continuing to say yes and grow as actors. “Not to go to the theatre is like making one’s toilet without a mirror.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Miyon Durham (Assistant Director) is 12 years old. He has recently been seen in Big, The Musical, The Wolves in the Walls and The Princess who doesn’t laugh at NOVA. He would like to thank his mom who didn’t give him a choice to act (just kidding).

Unpeeling the Onion
by director Dan Nickerson

When I took over as Youth Director in the Fall of 2013 I made it my mission to pick shows that would challenge our youth on many levels. I wanted to build upon the education and passion that had been laid before me by my predecessors, but also start to form my own artistic vision in the Billings community. I believe the work done by NOVA’s youth, teachers, directors and myself over the past year have put us down the right path but The Boy at the Edge of Everything will cement that vision and give our Youth Conservatory the identity it’s been working towards.

I first heard about The Boy at the Edge of Everything through a college friend of mine who saw the show in its infancy at the New Victory Theater in NYC as well as it’s premiere at Seattle Children’s Theatre in the Spring. I could easily see it being a great script for our Youth Conservatory season and immediately contacted Australian, playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer to pursue the rights.

The show itself centers around the life of Simon Ives; A “twelve and a bit year old boy” who lives in the chaos of middle school life. Between friends, homework, sports and obnoxiously loud family dinners, he struggles to find the time to “just sit….and be.” Through a random series of events, including the igniting of improperly stored fireworks, Simon is launched into the deepest corner of space where he meets a boy, living at the edge of the unknown universe, who shows him just what he’s been looking for.

With such a small cast, I chose eight kids who could easily play any role in the production and understand its complexities. It has been my pleasure to work with such a cohesive ensemble with whom I encourage to think of me as their facilitator, rather than director, to stress the importance of free thinking. In the true nature of ensemble work, every idea, whether we choose to use it or not, is useful. They have continued to evolve as actors and people throughout the rehearsal process; discovering new depths in Finegan’s explosive writing and, as I say to them, unpeeling the onion to expose another unique layer (even crying a bit; as onions make you do).

Through a series of stage pictures, movement pieces and yoga-like meditation we have created a visually and intellectually stimulating show, sure to be a crowd pleaser. Without giving away too much, audiences can expect an intergalactic ride through space and time, leaving them with questions about the universe and how we perceive ourselves in it. Don’t miss out on a truly transcendental show that will shape the very fabric of NOVA’s Youth Conservatory for years to come.

Weekly Webb: NOVA production provides a new life lesson
By Jaci Webb

HANNAH POTES/Gazette Staff
Tyler Shackelford, left, playing Simon Ives, and Carrick Napier, right, playing The Boy at the Edge of Everything, perform a scene from “The Boy at the Edge of Everything.”

There is a lot of learning going on at NOVA Center for the Performing Arts this fall.

It’s not the traditional kind of study, where students learn algebraic equations. Rather, they are unraveling the complexities of life.

The NOVA Youth Conservatory cast and crew tweaked lighting and projected images Monday for the new production, “Boy at the Edge of the Universe,” which opens Friday. The ensemble cast of eight was off-script and some actors occasionally missed a line. But they had clearly found the depth of their characters and possibly for the first time, they were exploring their own voices paired with movement in a production about being young and longing for a different life. The show runs through Oct. 12.

NOVA youth director Daniel Nickerson encouraged the cast to see him as a facilitator, not a director. Cast members range in age from 10 to 18, with many of them being just about the same age as the two main characters, who are in middle school. For the first time ever, Nickerson assigned a youth, 12-year-old Miyon Durham, to serve as his assistant director. This truly is a youth production.

Australian playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer clearly remembers what it was like to be 12 years old, just entering middle school and trying to find center. The author of 70 plays created characters so genuine they will make you laugh and think and possibly revisit the roller coaster ride of what it is to be 12.

Tyler Shackelford, a 15-year-old freshman at Skyview high School, plays Simon Ives, who is a “12-and-a-bit-year-old.”

Shackelford said he began to understand his character more after taking on this role. Simon Ives is struggling to stay focused in a chaotic world of friends, school, sports and loud family dinners. He longs to “just sit and be.” But when Simon Ives reaches out to his parents for guidance, they don’t seem to take him seriously.

Because he spends most evenings at the theater working on portraying this frazzled kid, Shackelford ends up staying up late finishing homework and taking care of other responsibilities. In essence, he is becoming Simon Ives.

“I can understand what Simon Ives is going through,” Shackelford said. “Adults don’t always see teenager’s problems as being as important as theirs.”

Carrick Napier plays Colin, who is the “boy at the edge of everything.” Napier is an eighth-grader at Lockwood Middle School. His character is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Simon Ives. Colin lives in space, away from the world. The only way he can learn about other people and life

is from textbooks and watching people from his perch in space.

Simon Ives envies Colin’s solitude and Colin longs for the constant social interactions of Simon Ives’s life. Nickerson said he chose the script in his effort to challenge the young people he works with.

The play was workshopped just a year ago at the New Victory Theater in New York and produced at the Seattle Children’s Theater in March. Nickerson said he asked his cast to unpeel the onion to expose another layer of themselves and ultimately, their characters.

Through stage images and movement pieces and even some yoga-like meditation, the cast worked to create a visually and intellectually stimulating show.

Nickerson promised that every show will be fresh, with different projected images and movement. But one constant will remain — a strong young cast motivated by a visionary facilitator will entertain and engage us.


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NOVA Center for the Performing Arts  -  2317 Montana Avenue - Billings, MT 59101
PO Box 11
Billings, MT 59103
Phone: 406-591-9535