The scene that unfolded outside of the 7-11 involved lots of drama, including drunken vomiting, a girl leaving her boyfriend for another guy, and almost broke out into a fight. However, the 7-11 isn’t built yet, and the director yells cut before anything more can happen.
This definitely isn’t your typical college night. Or maybe it is. It’s rehearsal for a play being directed by Josh Bristol that will be showing Dec. 10-13 at 8p.m., and on Dec. 14 at 2p.m. The play, SubUrbia, centers around five main characters during the course of an evening.
Both Bristol and several actors emphasized how character-driven the play was. “This play is about a group of aimless, disenfranchised, angry youth,” said Bristol, “who have nothing better to do with themselves than stand outside 7-11; drink, smoke, get in fights, and [screw].”
The angry youth are startled out of their usual listless existence when their old friend Pony visits. ?“Once [my character] comes back, it sparks a lot of things that might not have been there,” said Jonathan Wagner, who plays Pony. His character is the only one of the five main characters who has “escaped” the suburbs, and has also achieved mild stardom as a musician. Wagner found the play’s story difficult to describe. “It’s kind of crazy, it’s kind of screwed up.”
“It’s about you, and those guys you knew and hung out with in high school,” said Adam Curtis, who plays Jeff in the play. Alex Vaughan, who plays a drunken “party animal” named Buff, compared the play to the high school drama The Breakfast Club. Other actors in the play include Jon Noble and Emily Atkins.
The Designer is Leon Webers, and the Light Designer is Mary Donahue.
SubUrbia is the first student-directed play since 2005 that is playing on the main stage, according to Bristol. The play is Josh Bristol’s St. Mary’s Project, but he says the amount of oversight is minimal. Bristol’s advisor for the play is Michael Tolaydo, who Bristol said serves more as confidant than as someone with creative control. “Every night in rehearsal it’s only students that are in here,” said Bristol.
“It’s good to get another perspective from someone who is not an established professor of Theatre, Film, and Media Studies,” said Curtis. “It’s good to get someone fresh.”
Bristol said he mostly chose this play because the Theatre, Film, and Media Studies department does a lot of classics and foreign shows, and he wanted to do something “really modern.” SubUrbia was written as a play in 1994 by Eric Bogosian, and was adapted into a film in 1996 directed by Richard Linklater.
“I really like to direct stuff that I have a visceral reaction to when I first read it, and that has characters that I can immediately empathize with.” Bristol felt that the college community would connect to these characters. “I think that only the most non-reflective audience members won’t come into the theatre and see part of themselves onstage, and only the most cold-hearted of the audience will be able to come in here and not feel for the characters… if you grew up in Suburbia, there’s a piece of you in this play somewhere.”