Theater students stage political uprising
By Nathanial Quinn, Guest Commentator email@example.com
From THE BEACON
Clifford Odets’ landmark play Waiting for Lefty can be described as an event to be experienced by all. While this show was written about a union strike that took place in the 1930s, it is just as significant for society today. Its goal then and now is to remind us to stand up for what we believe in, much like occupiers and protesters are doing now. It is about a group coming together for a unifying cause, overcoming obstacles and deciding to take the initiative.
Jared Lee, the second-year directing grad in charge of the piece, wants the audience to be reminded that “we are the 99 percent.” He hopes the audience will be moved to participate during the action of the play, though it’s not a requirement. In order to facilitate this, Lee intends to rearrange the theater space “to create a sense that we are all in a camp together—in one unifying space, where the audience and the actors are equals.”
When the play opens on Nov. 28, cast members will be protesting outside the Mago Hunt Theater, and encouraging incoming audience members to rally as well. Upon entering the space, should you feel like having your voice heard, you can take up a sign—or bring your own—and treat our show as a place to voice that opinion, be it for or against the movement.
Audiences will feel like they are entering an Occupy camp as they enter the theater. Cast members for this show are going above and beyond taking on the roles of Odets’ sharply delineated characters; they will portray actual occupiers as well. You can expect to see these people, hear their opinions and witness their strife and anguish as you move further into the performing space. Once in the theater, designer Eric Lyness has created an environment defined by chain link fences, a wall of doors, and tarps overhead, to deepen the audience’s feeling of being in an Occupy camp. By stretching the set out into the audience, Lyness intends to help create Lee’s idea of unity between actor and audience. Actors will also be present in this environment, but not until the show begins will the audience actually know who is a performer and who is a spectator.
Student costume designer Hope Robinson is also working to make the show feel as real as possible. All cast members have a basic occupier costume, and as they adopt other characters throughout the show, they add and remove costume pieces to signal a change in character. These costume pieces will be seen hanging around the set in various locations, as though they were donated articles of clothing for the protesters.
As you walk around campus this month, you will see some of your colleagues sporting buttons that say “Where’s Lefty?” and “Occupy.” We encourage you to ask about them. While these emblems are there to gain your attention, they also represent individual stories for each character of the show. Stop and ask, and we’ll happily give you some insight into the production—as well as buttons of your own, if you’d like.
Nathaniel Quinn is a first-year graduate directing student who, in addition to appearing in Waiting for Lefty as a union boss, is also the show’s dramaturge. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. The play runs from November 28 through 30.