That is the story of Becky, a lonely 10-year-old girl with leukemia who is the main character of “Zink: The Myth, the Legend, the Zebra,” a play being presented the next two weekends by the young actors of TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada.
But Becky isn’t alone in her struggle with mortality. She has some guardian angels — guardian animals, actually — looking after her. Becky has a herd of zebras assigned to her and when she is with them, adventuring across the savannah, she is healthy and happy and free to do whatever she wants, unrestrained by illness or fear.
“They’re her company,” said Lizzy Stevenson, a 12-year-old Swope Middle School student who plays the role of Becky. “They help her through it and encourage her.”
Among the zebra friends is a furry monkey named Schlep who, like Becky, wants to be something she’s not. They’re both scared because Schlep doesn’t want anyone telling her she’s not a zebra, just as Becky doesn’t want anybody telling her she is too sick to be in the school talent show.
“(Becky) feels alone because her mom and dad don’t know she wants to be in the talent show,” said Nasya Mancini, a 14-year-old Reed High School student who plays Schlep. “They don’t really understand what she’s going through and they don’t really listen because they’re parents. These characters, the animals, help her go through her life. … They make her smile and just love her.”
“Everyone has fantasies, everyone wants to be something they’re not,” said Berlin Smith, 17, who plays the role of Ice Zee, the head zebra who wants to be a hip hop star. “In this play we show Becky true courage and we show that it’s OK to be scared because being scared is something everybody has to go through. Growing up is being scared.”
“It’s not that this play is here to say if you have imaginary friends who are zebras or monkeys or giraffes or whatever that’s going to make everything better,” said Holly Choma, 14, who plays the zebra Mama Zeke. “It’s that there is something you can do, it’s a matter of finding it.”
“Zink: The Myth, the Legend, the Zebra” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday this weekend, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27 and 28 and at 2 p.m. Sunday and Jan. 29 at the Laxalt Auditorium in the Nelson Building, 401 W. Second St. in Reno. Tickets cost $10 for general admission and $7 for children 18 and younger and seniors 61 and older. For more information, visit www.twnn.org or call 284-0789.
A final and free performance of “Zink” will be presented at 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at Renown Regional Medical Center’s Mack Auditorium. Characters from the show also will be making a special appearance for Renown Children’s Hospital patients at 11 a.m. Jan. 22.