Walking into the Bonn Studio Theater, members of the audience searched for the best spot among the seats that wrapped around the stage on all four sides. Three original student-written plays took the stage in New Voices 2022, a program that allowed students to oversee the production of plays they had written.
Scott T. Cummings, professor in the theatre department, directed all three plays: Appassionata written by Aidan O’Neill, MCAS ’23, Channels written by Katie Meade, MCAS ’22, and All The Bad Kids Go To Mars written by Lily Telegdy, Lynch ’23. The show ran from Feb. 18 to 20.
The plays appeared “in the round,” a stage configuration that allows the audience to be seated on all four sides of the stage. The format created an intimate environment that engaged the crowd.
“I think that decision stems in part from my desire to restore the immediacy of live performance in the face of the divisions and isolation that the pandemic has imposed on us,” Cummings said in his letter in the show’s program.
In the first play of the night, Appassionata, the audience entered the dorm room of Alex (Zachary Kariotis, MCAS ’25) and Charlie (Jack Krukiel, Lynch ’25), two college students navigating the world of challenging classes, demanding extracurriculars, and life-changing career decisions.
At the center of the play was a song titled “Appassionata Queered,” written by Martin Ryan, MCAS ’22. Krukiel performed the emotional piece following an intense moment in the show, when Charlie revealed to Alex their plans to change careers and pursue musical aspirations.
Other lighthearted featured songs balanced the emotional composition, including “Love Shack” by the B-52s. The closing scene, when Alex and Charlie danced around their room to “Strong Enough” by Cher, left the audience wondering what the future holds for the characters as the lights faded to black.
Channels tenderly explored difficult subject matter as a teenager struggles with their mental health and suicidal thoughts. The play is set in a guidance counselor’s office where two students, Amy (Grace Cutler, MCAS ’24) and Mitchell (Zack Blair, MCAS ’25), learn more about each other’s lives.
Comedic relief from Mrs. Drake (Emma Thompson, MCAS ’23), the hilarious and clearly unqualified guidance counselor, balanced the heavy themes of the show.
Following intermission, the stage transformed from a high school counselor’s office to a futuristic spaceship for the final play, All the Bad Kids Go To Mars.
Lighting changes altered the mood, as a ring of flashing, red lights descended from the ceiling. The lights accented the bright colors of the set design with purple, hot pink, and yellow rings on the ground of the spaceship, surrounded by five blue bean bag chairs. The stage came alive as Jane (Mary Zimmerman, MCAS ’25) and Dexter (Ryan Kruft, CSOM ‘23) appeared on stage dressed in bizarre spacesuits, accompanied by the beeping sound effects of the spaceship.
In the out-of-this-world comedy, five juvenile delinquents learn they have been banished to Mars after committing crimes on Earth and must populate their new planet. But it is apparently difficult to conceive a child on Mars, so the passengers must pair up and conceive children prior to landing. The entire operation is overseen by the robot M5 (Daniel Strickland, MCAS ’25).
The play was filled to the brim with comical elements as the reluctant teenagers are gifted Kama Sutra by M5. The song “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye serenaded the cast as a disco ball descended from the ceiling and the stage lights turned red. The audience members were unable to hold in their laughter as M5 relentlessly encouraged the teenagers to have sex with each other.
New Voices 2022 continued its tradition of bringing student-written creations to the stage. At the end of the show, the crowd rose to itstheir feet in applause congratulating the playwrights and the casts for their performances.
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff