img_1037Challenges are faced by every human being.  Those challenges can be as minor as deciding what color shirt to wear in the morning or as major as dealing with a life threatening disease.  However, it is hope and courage that allow all individuals to rise above their worries and succeed.  As the character of President Snow said in the Hunger Games, “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”

It was with this hope that the locally written play, Ultramarine Girl: A Cup Full of Courage was created.

The play is inspired by 15 year old Riley Allen, a courageous girl living with spina bifida.  Riley will be a freshman at the Greater Johnstown High School this fall.

“Ultramarine Girl” was written by local playwright Aspen Mock, who met the teen during the making of “A Semblance of Hope,” a play that raised awareness of breast cancer. Mock wrote this play, while Riley’s mother, Rachel Allen, wrote the music for the play.

Mock says she was moved by Riley’s character and qualities.  “(Her) grace, strength and courage is not only inspiring, but transcendent,” she says. “Although this play is fictional, it is a storyline that many people can relate to. My hope is that, should this play be published, that actresses with spina bifida are able to play the lead roles for the show.”

Allen believes everyone needs to learn to embrace challenges the way her daughter has embraced spina bifida. “This is courage,” she states. “Plain and simple.”

Riley says she hopes the play will educate the public about spina bifida. “We have hopes and dreams and we are not that different from anyone else. Courage to me means showing up, even when you are scared. I hope to face my own fears of change and going out of my comfort zone so I can work towards my dream of becoming a criminal lawyer and live in New York City.”

Funds for “Ultramarine Girl” were provided by a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant, as well as through various fundraisers.  All left over money and donations will be given to a well-known children’s charity.

Allen and Mock are appreciative of all the community supporters, including: Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, Beginnings, Inc. and Beginnings Junior Board; Doug Meagher and Bo Moore; Terry Mock, set designer; Ed Jenkins, website designer; James Walter Elston, logo designer; and the Greater Johnstown School District.

“Ultramarine Girl” is being performed at 7 p.m., July 31 and Aug. 1 and at 2 p.m. Aug. 2 on the Greater Johnstown Vocational and Technical Center stage.  For more information or for tickets, go to http://www.ultramarinegirl.com.

Published by Johnstown Magazine, June 2015.
Photo Credit: Rachel Allen
Link to PDF: johnstown-magazine_july-2015_ultramarine-girl





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