Infamous Experiment Subject of SBP Play


Yannie Lopez

An ensemble of SBP students practice for the Drama Guild’s latest production.

Saint Benedict’s Drama Guild has an upcoming production by the name of “Miss Evers’ Boys,” directed by Theater Teacher Ms. Patricia Flynn.

Ms. Flynn chose this play for the students in order to inspire them.  “It’s important to explore different topics,” she said. She also mentioned that “students need to know what happened with the society when African Americans were ignored.”

The play, written by David Feldshuh, is a fictional account of the notorious Tuskegee Study.  The study was conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service. The purpose was to study the natural history of untreated syphilis. The men recruited to the study, primarily African American men from rural Alabama, were misinformed and did not receive proper treatment. The study has been cited as “arguably the most infamous biomedical research study in U.S. history,” according to a 2006 article in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

In 1946, penicillin was discovered and cured syphilis easily. However, the men in the study weren’t cured because they weren’t informed. It became a scandal. Many of the study participants were crippled by the disease and later died.

About 30 SBP students are involved in the production. “It’s hard and very stressful – it takes a lot of time to memorize the lines,” said Wood-May Joseph SY, an actor in the play and active leader in the SBP community. “Most nights I don’t sleep until 1 in the morning. There’s no way around it. I have to put the time in to it.”

Last fall, the Drama Guild performed Arthur Miller’s play, “All My Sons.”

Ms. Flynn chooses plays that empower students and illuminate issues.

“This play is important because it shows how people are not considered important, and this still happens today,” Ms. Flynn said.

The play will be performed Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.