By Brittany Davenport
Four of this year’s nine senior studios are coming to the Margaret Jonsson Theater this fall. The plays will be running Dec. 4–7 in the theater, with preparation and rehearsals having already begun. The plays are as follows: “The Truth About The Truth” by Benn W. Levy and directed by Joseph Dodd; “Sotoba Komachi” by Yukio Mishima and directed by Annie Zwerneman; “God” by Woody Allen and directed by Aidan Malone; and “Polaroid Stories” by Naomi Iizuka and directed by Catie McLain.
“Each play that the seniors choose is a reflection of self,” Dodd said. He said that he was able to become familiar and comfortable with his play almost immediately.
“The subject matter of my play is actually very familiar, but the delivery starts to warp the audience’s perception until they are no longer certain in that familiarity as presented.”
Malone revealed a less serious side of this senior project, calling the studios “a pretty good balance of lighthearted and dramatic.”
Malone described “God” as “the story of two Ancient Greek slackers who are unsuccessful in unsuccessful in fulfilling themselves as thespians.”
“Even if we tried to ruin the show, people would still enjoy the show,” Malone said. “I believe that the comfort in knowing the play will be liked no matter what frees my team and I to highlight the themes beneath the laughs instead of on them.”
The shift in emotions played out from story to story brings diversity to this project. In Zwerneman’s modern Japanese Noh play, for example, music and dance play a huge role.
“[‘Sotoba Komachi’] is a modern Japanese Noh play that explores the close relationship between narcissism and death in which a 99-year-old once-beautiful woman called Komachi haunts a twilit park full of lovers and fatally enthralls an idealistic poet,” Zwerneman said. “One’s concept of reality is not ever entirely whole and that one’s reality may be completely different from someone else’s. I want to take those perspectives and explore the very real addiction to beauty.”
A concept Zwerneman wants to investigate is the shift from scenes in the present day to scenes set in Komachi’s monochrome memories.
McLain defines her choice as a “memory play,” meaning that it is “non-realistic, hazy and filled with imagery.” The play blends the myths of Ovid and street modernity. In fact, the modern aspect is based on a documentary called “Streetwise,” which focuses on teens and young adults who live on the streets of Seattle in 1984.
“Every character in ‘Polaroid Stories’ is an addict of some kind,” McLain said. “Oftentimes it’s easy to reduce addicts to their afflictions but what’s exciting about this play is how complex and contradictory each character is. They, like all of us, have the potential for good and bad, they all ultimately just want to be happy, and they all seem to have an illogically hard time choosing to be happy.”
Each director said that his or her play takes commonly-held views and preconceptions, and gives the audience an unexpected outcome. Dodd pointed out that all four studios rely on individual interpretation. The stories present multiple worldviews, making these productions a subjective experience. In showing these points of view in varied settings and time periods, the seniors promise to bring depth to the stage this fall.