Play focuses on life away from parents

The protagonist of “Butterflies Are Free,” Theatre TCU’s new production, has a lot in common with students, the play’s director said.

“It’s about overcoming challenges we all face as college students, like what love is and how to make it on your own and take care of yourself,” student director Preston Swincher said. Swincher is a senior seeking double degrees in musical theatre and entrepreneurial management.

The play, set in the late 1960s, focuses on the relationship between Don Baker, a young blind man living by himself for the first time in Manhattan, and his neighbor Jill Tanner, a free-thinking hippie. The duo’s budding romance plays an important part in Baker’s attempts to distance himself from his overbearing mother.

Given the show’s message, it seems especially appropriate that “Butterflies Are Free” is produced and directed primarily by TCU students.

“We have advisers, but we really are doing the brunt of the work,” said Justin Rapp, the sophomore theatre major who plays Don Baker.

This is the first major production that Swincher has directed.

“The hardest part for me was learning to communicate with theatre artists who are not from my specialty,” Swincher said. “I had to work with a whole team of designers. It’s very trial and error – you kind of learn as you go.”

Rapp said he thinks the show will give students new insight into what their parents go through when they leave for college.

“You love someone so much, you don’t want them to leave,” Rapp said. “But at the same time you know you should. Don’s mother has to learn to eventually let go of her son, to let him live on his own.”

Children younger than 13 shouldn’t come to the show because it depicts alcohol consumption and “very mild sexual content,” Swincher said.

“I have two actors who spend an entire scene in their underwear,” Swincher said. “Very family-friendly and fun, but sexual content.”

“Butterflies Are Free” starts today at 5:30 p.m., in the Studio Theatre located near the Hays Theatre entrance in the Walsh Center for Performing Arts.

What: “Butterflies Are Free”

When: 5:30 p.m. Friday , 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: the Studio Theatre located near the Hays Theatre entrance in the Walsh Center for Performing Arts

Cost: $10 for the general public, $5 for students, faculty and staff, senior citizens