An Out-of-This-World Production: Preview of Student-Directed Play “The Aliens”
By: Sherlyn Ong
At the end of the month, the Sarofim School of Fine Arts Theater Department will present a student-led production, “The Aliens.” This production is directed by senior Alejandra Navarro and this is her first main-stage production by herself. The stage manager and assistant stage manager are Olivia Woodward ‘16 and Emily Scott ‘19, respectively.
“The Aliens” was written by Annie Baker and it falls under the comedy-drama genre. It is about two friends, Jasper (Eric Oden ‘16) and KJ (Noah Kopit ‘16), who hang out behind a Vermont coffee shop and are fans of poetry and music. They meet a newly hired teenage employee, Evan (Kolton Noreen ‘18), and decide to teach him about life. In this play, there will also be some live music and songs incorporated.
What sets this show apart from others that one may see at Southwestern is that its cast and creative group is entirely student run, with some supervision from members of the faculty. While theatre students are always very involved with the process of developing and creating a show, they have come to the forefront and have the opportunity to showcase what they have learned, taking over the traditionally faculty run positions of director and designers.
“The Aliens” is a unique play because it is more realistic than its title might suggest. The script is written in a conversational style, whereby the lines are things that you would say in your everyday life. Furthermore, the stage is small and simple, unlike the recent production of “The Fantasticks,” and the play is a lot more personal to the audience. It will be performed in the black box theater, which is a small space. The audience thus feels more connected and a part of the play.
Navarro compares the audience to a group of people spying and eavesdropping on the actors of the play. She also points out that the play focuses on a great deal of detail, where small interactions are extremely significant.
The interactions that are presented in this play serves to show how the intricacies of life are important and all the time that we spend on our smartphones nowadays is drawing away from this. Furthermore, this play refrains from using too many technological effects and lets the actors simply play people as people, which reminds us that we are all fundamentally very human.
“It makes theater important again,” Navarro says, “because if theater tries to be like film, it’s not going to work. There’s an air in the room you can’t necessarily describe but it reinvigorates the idea that there is an audience there with them, experiencing what they [the actors] are experiencing.”
Navarro adds that this play means a lot to her and that she had the honor of meeting the playwright, who told her: “I always thought ‘The Aliens’ should be directed by a woman.” She is excited to be fulfilling that request!
The show runs March 31 through April 3 in Heather Hall. Tickets are limited, so come and experience this unique and thought -provoking play and allow yourself to reflect on your everyday life as you watch the cast illuminate the little things in life that matter.