Which Festival Goer Are You? Top Three ArtsFest Essentials for Every Artistic Persuasion

By John Hogan

The winter is finally thawing and gaggles of Nantucket red shorts are migrating back to New England. Frisbees, sunshine and warmth, visible grass—so many things that seemed like a distant memory have returned. And what better way to celebrate the end of a winter that even Ned Stark wouldn’t have had enough blankets for than attending this year’s Arts Festival? Beginning this Thursday and continuing on until Saturday, the campus-wide celebration of creativity is bound to have at least one event for everybody. Are you a theatre pundit? A literary connoisseur? Check out our list of top three festival essentials for every artistic persuasion.

Top Three Can’t-Miss Festival Moments…

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…for Art Aficionados        

Don’t get lost in the in the marathon of events and forget to see the star of this year’s Arts Festival: alumni Chris Doyle ’81. His receiving of this year’s Arts Council Alumni Award is more than deserved: his interdisciplinary work combines video, animation, and watercolors and channels the parallels between urbanity and nature. Watch the full version of “Bright Canyon” here. Other works of his, like “The Fluid,” explore how cultural frames affect our view of landscapes. A constant theme of his work is the evocation of ecological wonder and vibrancy and the relationship between civilization and nature. Doyle will receive the Arts Council Alumni Award on Friday at 4:00. The ceremony and following reception are free and open to all.

Make sure to come by on Friday at 2:15 for Inside the BC Studio. Here Doyle will be interviewed about his career, his time at BC, and the relation between the two. Also stop by the tent on Saturday at 2:00 for the Industry Insider Panel. Here the tables will be turned and Doyle will interview Denise Markonish, Curator of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as Al Miner, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the MFA. Both events will paint a portrait of the arts industry and illustrate what it’s like to be the person painting the pictures as well as the person who puts them on the wall.

Acclaimed Artist Chris Doyle '81 is the Alumni Arts Award Recipient for 2015.

Acclaimed Artist Chris Doyle ’81 is the Alumni Arts Award Recipient for 2015.

…for Theatre ‘Thusiasts

If you’re longing for live performance—whether comedic or dramatic—there are a few events to keep an eye out for. The Boston College Theater Department will be performing Shakespeare’s final play The Tempest all three nights in Robsham at 7:30 PM. But if you’re looking for something more lighthearted than fraternal betrayal and twisted monarchial machinations, the Committee for Creative Enactments is putting on an “interactive comedic murder mystery” in the O’Connell House on both Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00 and 9:00. Another option is to come celebrate the 35th anniversary of My Mother’s Fleabag—they’re performing in the O’Neil Plaza on Friday night at 8:00.

…for Music Maestros

Thursday and Friday both have a few notable options for live music in the O’Neill Plaza. For those of Gaelic origins or orientations, Seamus Connolly is directing the Irish Studies Music Program Thursday at noon. There will be dancing, music, and discussion of the culture behind them both. Later on at 8:00, CAB and the Music Guild will co-host BC’s Best. Come watch original singer-songwriters and bands battle each other for the approval of tired college students! Jazz enthusiasts should be pleased to hear that BC bOp! is performing Friday at noon. If you feel like bOpFlix! wasn’t enough, then you have the opportunity to see bOp! perform one more hour of its extensive jazz literature. Whatever you spend the rest of your day doing, make sure to stop by the O’Neil Plaza again at 9:30 for BC Underground. There you’ll find an hour and a half of genres that are typically underrepresented in the BC community. Break dancing and electronic music aren’t advertised too often around campus, so don’t miss the opportunity to transcend the BC bubble on-campus.

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…for Lit Lovers

There’s a plethora of literature and poetry readings at his year’s Arts Festival. Stylus—BC’s largest and oldest student-run literary publication—is having a reception for the launch of its Spring issue. Come to Stokes South 195 at 7:30 to hear short fiction and poetry read by their original authors. But if that’s not enough to entice you, know that there will be snacks.

If Stylus doesn’t interest you, there will be two smaller—and perhaps more subversive—readings to keep an eye out for. Juice will be having two readings, both in the Stokes Art Tent. Come Friday at 6:15 or Saturday at 6:00 to hear poetry that embodies the black experience in both the university and postgraduate worlds. The Laughing Medusa will also have a reading Friday afternoon, again at the Stokes Art Tent. Take a seat at 1:00 to hear the work of BC’s most progressive and creative women.

… for Dance Devotees

BC’s dance teams have been rehearsing vigorously these past few weeks for their upcoming three days of performances. Rather than splitting each team into its own event, there will be a Dance Showcase of all the teams together in the O’Neil Plaza each afternoon. You can watch the eighteen groups perform styles ranging from ballet to hip-hop at either 12:45 or 2:45 on Thursday, 1:15 on Friday, or 1:00 on Saturday. These showcases are a unique opportunity to see extraordinarily talented dancers perform styles you’re both familiar and foreign to in the same space.

If you’d rather dance than watch people dance, you’ll have to wait until 8:00 on Saturday for Dancing with bOp! There’ll be live jazz and choreography from BC dance groups. If you’re not too busy watching The Tempest, there could no better way to end this year’s Arts Festival than with dancing and jazz. You may be tired after three days of wandering from creative spirit to creative spirit, but I guarantee you’ll leave in high spirits.

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What Makes a Festival Pop? ArtsFest Behind the Scenes

By Anna Vecellio

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The arts, quite simply, nourish the soul. They sustain, comfort, inspire. There is nothing like that exquisite moment when you first discover the beauty of connecting with others in celebration of larger ideals and shared wisdom

— Gordon Gee

I have a clear and distinct memory of my first introduction to Boston College’s Annual Arts Festival. I was a second semester freshman, still shy and unsure about my place at BC and what I wanted to do. I had begun to hollow out a small niche for myself in the Theatre Department, Assistant Stage Managing for “Avenue Q”. It wasn’t until well into the rehearsal process for the musical that I learned that the show would be featured as part of ArtsFest and benefit from the huge crowds the event draws in every year.

In the weeks leading up to the show, upperclassmen actors and crew began discussing what events they most wanted to attend and lamenting those they would miss as a result of rehearsals and performances. Some discussed their time commitments to events they were taking part in or organizing. Others talked about their part in organizing ArtsFest in general. As a freshman, I couldn’t really comprehend what a huge event I had somehow found myself involved in, or what I would be missing due to “Avenue Q”. That changed on Thursday morning.

Within a single day, the full effect of the festival spread across campus as tents went up and crowds began to gather. Three days straight of a never-ending parade of the arts was overwhelming to say the least. I quickly learned from friends in theatre who were involved, what the Arts Festival really was. Over the course of three days, the Arts Council brings together every manner of arts on campus and invites not only the school but also the entire community surrounding Boston College to participate. Student theatre groups put on shows, English students read their theses, dance groups compete, musicians and bands perform, artists display their work, comedy groups break out the laughs, a different alumni artist is honored and visits campus ever year.

While I didn’t get to see much of the festival because of my own part in the musical, my passing participation was enough to cement the festival as one of the most impressive events of the year for me. It was the kind of weekend that brought together students from all across campus through their extra-curricular activities, friendships, and pure artist interest. Everyone seemed to have one event or another that they want to attend. It was the kind of weekend that seemed to epitomize the college campus feeling. It wasn’t until this year, as a junior, that I became an Arts Council intern and actually got a chance to peer behind the curtain of the festival and seeing the intricate foundation beneath.

No matter what it may seem like, as an intern for the Arts Council, I realized very quickly that the festival doesn’t just appear overnight. The first thing I learned is that the process of creating the festival is a year long affair that transforms from a manageable task most of the year into a complete vortex of panic in April. In the weeks leading up to the festival there is so much going on that the office is literally never empty. Second thing I learned is that a lot of the people involved in the production of the festival are students, including: all the volunteers — of which there are more than a hundred — the festival interns, the stage managers, the production manager, the marketing coordinators, the marketing interns, the volunteer coordinator, and the programming coordinator are all students.

Over the course of the year these students, myself included, a group of graduate students, and employees, worked on the festival and its various wheels and cogs. Just organizing the schedules for all of the ArtsFest events takes the whole year, let alone figuring out who needs to work on each one, what all the events need, how to get them their supplies, which volunteers are needed for each event, and how each event will be marketed. What really strikes me about the festival, however, isn’t just the sheer scale of it or how much work goes into it, but the attitude toward the arts within the Council. The people who come together to create the festival are some of the most passionate about the arts that I’ve seen. At a school like Boston College, where students are saturated by ads for sports, and new academic and dorm buildings seem like the priority, the arts can feel neglected and ignored – whether purposefully or not. Yet, I would wager that ArtsFest is one of the events that brings together the entire student and faculty body the most. That ability to draw the students into the arts speaks to the dedication of the Arts Council, as does my experience with them, that is inspiring.

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Check out the Arts Council website for a full schedule of events at ArtsFest this week, or pick up a brochure at one of our many outlets across campus. ArtsFest runs Thursday through Saturday this week, noon – late.

First Time at ArtsFest? Here’s All You Need to Know

By Kristen Mabie

Is this your first year going to ArtsFest and you’re not sure what to expect, or which events to attend? You’ve noticed those white tents that mysteriously appeared while you were cheering on marathoners. But what are they for, and why should you care? Read on, for the in-brief low down of what each ArtsFest venue has to offer and why you should be excited!

From Thursday through Saturday of this week, Boston College will put the spotlight on all forms of art. Though BC has a strong community of talented student-artists they are rarely honored with such a public platform. Over 1,000 students and faculty will share their artistic talents with us, which means you’re almost certain to find something you love. BC students and visitors alike can’t miss the festival tents on O’Neill Plaza and Stokes Lawn, in a central and beautiful part of our campus. Though O’Neill Plaza and the Stokes Lawn are the heart and soul of the festival, events are also held in buildings throughout campus, such as Gasson 100, so remember to check the schedule online for details. Also on the online schedule lists the times of the events, and many are in the evenings so if you are not available during the day you still have the opportunity to experience the festival! It’s truly a three-day non-stop celebration of the arts.

The Irish Studies Music Program will start us off in the main tent at O’Neill Plaza on Thursday at noon. After that, music, theatre, and dance events are held every hour, all throughout the weekend. Following the amazing Showdown dance competition last weekend, many campus dance groups will take the stage in O’Neill plaza and perform. Additionally, a-capella and other musical groups will share this stage throughout the weekend. The stage will rarely be left empty so make sure to stop by often to experience a variety of art forms, cultures, and artists. Each evening, head to the tent on O’Neill for the main event, a three-night billing to cater for all tastes, from the all-out rock fest of BC’s Best and the can’t-stop hip hop of BC Underground to the big band extravaganza of Dancing with bOp!

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Have you ever seen a sketch show in an art gallery? The Stokes Art Tent houses a three-day pop up student exhibition as well as a host of live performances. It’s a very unique experience where you may get the chance to interact with the artist of your favorite piece in the Gallery Opening and Reception. Or hangout with your lunchtime reading and enjoy music, improv comedy, and spoken word in the unique atmosphere of this warm, sunny, indoors-outdoors art gallery. The tent will also hold more formal events such as Artist Talks by the students showing work and Inside the BC Studio, a conversation with professor Sheila Gallagher and our esteemed alumni guest for the year, artist Chris Doyle (’81). Doyle is an internationally exhibited artist whose recent project was an installation for Times Square. The discussion with him on Friday afternoon at 2:15 PM is a can’t miss event! The art doesn’t remain within the bounds of the Stokes tent, however. The Stokes Lawn itself is a hub of arty events going on all weekend. After you’ve soaked in the art exhibition step out onto the lawn to pick up a unique gift at the BC craft fair, get a beautiful henna tattoo at the free henna stand, or create art yourself, with the daily sidewalk chalk masterpiece, a giant reproduction of a famous painting on which the whole BC community can collaborate.

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No matter what days or events you attend at this year’s Arts Festival it is sure to be a highlight of this Boston College Spring. The vibrant energy and inspiring talent the festival has to offer can’t be missed by any fan of Boston College or the arts. And if you still aren’t sure which events are for you, head over the Arts Council website for the full schedule.

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ArtsFest is Finally Here! What Are Your Must-Sees This Year?

By Cuilin Chen

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Acclaimed artist Chris Doyle is this year’s Special Alumni Guest at ArtsFest.

 

It’s set to be a week of joy and spirit on the BC campus: after the long-awaited Boston Marathon today comes the 2015 Boston College Arts Festival, beginning this Thursday and running through Saturday. For three days every year, our campus is home to a wide scope of events including a fine art exhibition, music, dance and theatre performances. The art frenzy is about to begin! Step outside, come to the festival, and enjoy this beautiful season. Spring it is, let your senses be awakened. From Thursday to Sunday, day and night, the Arts Fest will fill you with excitement. Check out the schedule now and find your must-see events.

Besides performances, shows and exhibitions, the Arts Fest also offers more academic alternatives, such as literary readings and performance poetry. And there are always opportunities to get involved: One of the events set to be a highlight this year is “Inside the BC Studio.” BC Art Professor Sheila Gallagher will interview the 2015 ArtsFest Special Alumni Guest, acclaimed multidisciplinary artist Chris Doyle ’81 live on stage, on Friday afternoon. It will be a great opportunity to learn about the artist and his works. I am personally a big fan of the artist and his quirky yet substantial animations. In 2014, Doyle’s installation, “Bright Canyon,” was projected all over Time Square. Hear how Doyle found his way from BC college graduate and made a name for himself in the art world at Inside the BC Studio and The Industry Insider Panel this Friday and Saturday.

If you are feeling uplifted, don’t forget to take part in the Arts Fest tradition, Saturday afternoon’s children’s events. Wouldn’t it be such a sweet dream to be reading stories in the tent, along with the melody of spring, to children’s lovely faces? I consider the children’s program a special and meaningful component of the Arts Fest, as it allows children to experience and appreciate art at a young age, and it is not until later that they would realize how inspiring it is to have art as part of their lives.

You might have a ton of plans for Saturday parties, but what about an artsy “pregame” this weekend? You can catch a movie and a show this Friday night right on campus. Begin at Stokes Art Tent for the premiere screening of Mod of Cards, Episode 5 at 9 PM, then head over to the main tent on O’Neill Plaza for BC Underground, a night of break dancing, hip hop, EDM and other underground artists.

BC Underground

BC Underground

In the end, here are a few tips for you to enjoy the Arts Fest to fullness: Come to Arts Fest, and be part of it! This annual festival provides the best platform to learn from and interact with other artists; and if you are an artist yourself, this is the time of the year where we see you shine, on stage or beside your work; or if you are just looking for entertainment, I am sure you will find pleasure in all that the Arts Fest has to offer. I look forward to seeing you in the festival!

What Can Art Learn from Business? The Own It Summit from an Artist’s Perspective

By Kristen Mabie

kristenmabie

 I hate how my voice sounds when I speak into a microphone. However, the Own It Summit Boston College held on March 29 was far too inspirational and thought-provoking for me not to stand up and ask questions during the Q&A’s. Own It is a conference focused on women’s leadership, developed last year at Georgetown University. Artists others than writers were virtually non-existent at the event, but that did not deter me at all. The writers who spoke, along with all the other women representing fields such as media, politics, business, and STEM, conveyed that they were motivational and successful women without even mentioning their career. However, the career stories they told and the advice they provided, no matter what their profession, was universal. The summit was co-hosted by UGBC and the Women In Business club. Even though there were patent leather heels everywhere I looked, I truly believe that the Own It Summit was a beneficial day for everyone who attended regardless of career interest, age, or even gender.

I attended the business panel and one of the speakers, a sales manager at Google and a BC alum, provided the following career advice to women: sit up straight, claim your space. Her advice to be confident and have a high self-worth despite your gender, or any other circumstance, is just one example of the transcendent inspiration from the summit’s speakers. The keynote speakers — Carrie Rich, CEO of the Global Good Fund, and Kate White, novelist and former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine — were utterly brilliant. At the very beginning of the day, all summit attendees were asked to answer the question posed by writer and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Both White and Rich told us to take those risks and there is no better time to make your ideas reality than today. This resonated with me as an art student. It is easy to feel like my art is not good enough to show other people, that I do not have enough experience to try my hand at design, and that my art is personal, so by not succeeding artistically I am not succeeding personally. Throughout the day, the importance of confidence was an undercurrent in every speaker’s story and inspired me to be a better artist.

Kate White, a successful writer and creative mind, uses the motto “go big or go home” in her career. Though White’s speech spoke to both my business and artistic aspirations, the idea of “go big or go home” has especially impacted my artistic practice in the past couple weeks and I’m sure that impact will continue. As an artist of any type you need to be bold and trust your instinct – you cannot do anything half way. White also advised us to stop worrying about what other people think. Though this is common advice, from an artistic perspective I was reminded of the quote by Andy Warhol, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” White was a visiting speaker for the summit, but in a way she was a visiting artist as well, and I wholly support her philosophy of not asking permission to go above and beyond and try something new. Rather than always waiting for others’ evaluation, keep pushing your own boundaries and you will wind up with something great. The summit may not have been meant to serve as artistic inspiration but it sure turned out that way!

Inspiring women (and the handful of men who attended) to “own it” in their careers was the goal of the summit and it by no means fits the traditional confines of an event that represents BC Arts on campus. However, the Own It summit shows that sources of inspiration and learning opportunities for our art community extend further than we often realize. The interdisciplinary learning emphasized at Boston College encourages us to connect areas of thought we might not consider and this type of environment is perfecting for aspiring artists!

What do Bay Windows, Gouda, and BC bOp! Have in Common?

by John Hogan

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I admit—I’m no expert in jazz. Or music composition in general. My brief affair with the recorder ended anticlimactically after the eighth grade. In fact, most of the indie music I listen to was introduced to me by friends with better taste and ears more finely tuned to the rhythms of the underground. But don’t think for a second that my mild incompetence impedes my ability to appreciate good music when I hear it. My amateur eardrums absolutely reveled in the sound waves of bOpFlix last Saturday night. You probably saw the Netflix-themed advertisements around campus. And hopefully they piqued your interest enough to buy a ticket because bOpFlix proved to be one of the most elating nights of music this semester.

For a long while I belonged to the Bart Simpson School of jazz sucks. But that was before I appreciated the finer things in life. Like bay windows and gouda. Over the past few months, I’ve had the fortune of being schooled in jazz by my future roommate and current bOp! trumpeter Andrew Heimerman. His aggressively blonde hair against the red-lit curtain was the first thing I noticed when the tuxedoed bOp! players took the stage.

Perched in the second-to-last row, my three friends and I had a bird’s eye view of the performance. The ensemble strutted out before the lights dimmed. The sounds of their light warmup filled the space between conversations with eager sophistication. When the lights shut, the talking seamlessly morphed to applause. Audience members shouted names of their friends and the blue screens of phones and cameras floated like electric fireflies in the dark.

bOpFlix began with no introductions of any kind. Darkness filled the room. The light projected on the curtain switched from red to a light swirl of pink and blue reminiscent of these popsicles you may have eaten as a child. The night kicked off with a jazzy rendition of Charles Calhoun’s “Smack Dab in the Middle.”

Photo courtesy of The Heights.

Photo courtesy of The Heights.

The entire performance was spectacular. It was clear that bOpFlix was the culmination of months of hard work and creative energy. Every song wrapped itself around my brain—capturing our attention based on their own merit, rather than riding the coattails of whatever song that came before. But I don’t think I blinked once during the 11th act. Mike Mastellone stole the spotlight—and probably the hearts of each audience member—when he sang Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” I met Mastellone at late night a few weeks prior. I thought he was a great guy, but I never thought he would give Frankie Valli a run for his money. Not many 18-year-olds can conquer the stage with such grace. If he was nervous, his bellowing tenor betrayed every hint of trepidation.

The strongest connection bOpFlix had to contemporary pop culture was ‘It’s All About That (Upright) Bass.” Marian Wyman made Meghan Trainor’s lyrics her own while Andrew Jones plucked his upright bass. With a doo-wop trio in sparkling gold tuxedo jackets, the word “booty” never sounded classier.

Director Sebastion Bonaiuto and Vocal Director Karen Sayward deserve all the praise they could ever receive—the talent they’ve drawn out of performers who probably aren’t any older than twenty-two is remarkable. Jazz filled Robsham like water last Saturday night. After what was a long and arduous week of midterms for many, there could have been nothing more rejuvenating than easing back and letting the music take over. I wasn’t trying to escape from reality walking into the theater, but I found myself completely and joyously lost by the end. The performers’ energy certainly rubbed off on the audience; it seemed like everyone walking out of Robsham left with a smile on their face and a lively bounce to their step. Regardless of whatever activities people spent the rest of their Saturday nights doing, I’m sure no one had a problem remembering what chords bOpFlix struck Sunday morning.

Watching from the Booth: How Theatre Touches People

By Anna Vecellio

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“Great theatre is about challenging how we think and

encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.” – Willem Dafoe

            Watching a play from the Stage Manager’s booth is a unique experience. The Stage Manager has a different perspective from the audience, the director, the cast; it is an all-inclusive one. We attend every rehearsal, every production meeting, and we run the shows. I could tell you about the performances by the actors in Boston College’s recent production of “Next Fall”. I could discuss stage direction, or even the design – all of which came together for a beautiful show. Instead, I’d like to try and explain how, from my perspective, the show touched everyone involved. Of all the shows I’ve worked on, none have prompted the kind of discussions that emerged from our experience of “Next Fall”.

Directed by Sarah Krantz ’15 and written by Geoffrey Nauffts, “Next Fall” is a memory play centered on the five year long relationship between Adam (Andrew Troum), a 40 year-old teacher, and Luke (Jared Reinfeldt), a 30 year-old actor and devout Christian. When Luke is in a terrible accident, Adam must spend the night at the hospital with his quirky friend Holly (Kate Weidenman), Luke’s former friend and equally devout Christian Brandon (Joe Meade), and Luke’s parents Arlene (Maisie Laud) and Butch (Ted Kearnan), who have no idea Luke is gay, let alone that he has been living with Adam for four years. Juxtaposing the hospital scenes with memories from Luke and Adam’s relationship, the show slowly reveals all the tensions, problems, and joys in their lives. The central conflict is Luke’s belief that being gay is a sin – one he must repent for every day. Adam, a steadfast atheist, can’t quite accept God’s central place in their relationship.

Ted Kearnan played Luke’s father, Butch, a man whose wild past led him to cling to the Bible as a way of straightening out his life. His attitude toward Luke’s choice to become an actor, and his verbal homophobia, in part, causes Luke’s self-loathing. Yet, as the rehearsal process went on, the line between Butch the villain and Butch the caring and grief stricken father became harder and harder to see, especially for Ted. Many times, Ted talked about the difficulty of rationalizing the loving devoted father and the man who so whole-heartedly rejected his son’s real life.

“Next Fall” challenges everything we, as a society, have built up around the idea of good and evil, antagonists and protagonists. Adam, the lead of show, should have been the hero fighting for his right to love Luke and be loved in return, yet most of his arguments feature explosions of rage and personal attacks. Andrew, who played him, captured a side of Adam that was much more unsympathetic than the traditional heroic figure. The same went for Jared’s performance of Luke. At times, Luke seemed to be the perfect match for Adam, his soul mate. At others, Luke’s religious devotion drove them apart in a way that was viscerally painful and frustrating. The monsters in this story weren’t the kinds that live under beds and in dark corners. They lived inside every character. The effect of this ambiguity could be seen in every actor – who struggled to find their acting space in the mess of moral greys. It also struck at the audience in the most poignant way I’ve seen in my time in theatre.

The audience sat on both sides of the stage and, as a result, was visible from the booth. Every night, I had a front seat to both the action on stage and the audience’s reactions. From the booth I watched parents, professors, students, and members of the theatre department experience a show that had already touched the people involved in it. Around night two, we started joking about which lines would make audience members cry. Watching from the booth, however, I was struck by the sheer number of moments that evoked reactions from the audience. Moments like: Arlene’s heartfelt monologue about Luke that reveals not only some of the darkest parts of her past but conveys her unbreakable love for her son; when Butch describes the process of removing his son’s organs for donation, revealing some of the clear goodness beneath the bigoted surface; or Adam’s final speech, in which he claims to have finally “believed,” both heart breaking and underpinning the futility of Adam’s aggression towards Christianity.

In the end, this was the power of the show: it created characters that were perfectly human in every way. Those kinds of shows don’t come around often – and if you ever have the opportunity to see one, do it. Or you might miss a chance to have your world view challenged.


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