Arts, On Campus

BC Contemporary Theatre Puts On Outdoor Performances of Three Original Plays 

As the sun set on a brisk, clear evening at the McMullen Museum of Art on Friday night, audience members sat outdoors perched up on a terrace to watch three original student-written and directed plays as part of the Contemporary Theatre of Boston College’s Absurdities, a one-night production creatively directed by Olivia Emerick, MCAS ’25, and Abby Wachter, MCAS ’25.

Just as the name suggests, each play featured a distortion of, or branching out from, reality. All had small casts of two, three, or four people, minimalistic set designs, and lighting from just a few small units on the ground.

Adding to the rawness of the event was a biting, unrelenting wind and the sounds of the city—a police car screaming by, electronic dance music, and the squawk of a bird flying overhead.

The first production, The Moonflower Play, written by Benjamin Burke, MCAS ’25, and directed by Emerick, explored the mind of a college student grappling with their identities and others’ perception of their struggle during Halloweekend. 

This student, Mystic (Makana Jorgensen, WCAS ’26), does not want to dress up for Halloween nor go out, despite the best efforts of their roommates and friends, played by Zachary Kariotis, MCAS ’25; Alessandro Cella, MCAS ’26; Lydia Stables, a third-year exchange student; and Lily Telegdy, LSEHD ’23.

As the play progressed, general chaos and hilarity ensued, all within the confines of a college dorm room. The actors entered and exited the performing space throughout the play, walking through the audience members while singing, laughing, and yelling. 

In one scene, Mystic is left alone on stage as they contemplate their identity and its relation to the fleeting moon flower’s blossom, which lasts just a single day. 

Following a short break, the next play, Therapy Dog, written by Wyatt Seder-Burnaford, MCAS ’25, and directed by Alison MacDonald, MCAS ’24, began. 

The play consisted of two individuals, Arnold (Carter Frato-Sweeney, LSEHD ’26) and Patricia  (Brooke Flanders, LSEHD ’23), working out their problems with a talking intelligent dog (Leah Temple Lang, LSEHD ’23) and its secretary (Molly Casper, MCAS ’26). 

The issue at stake this time is not identity and existentialism, but rather the characters’ difficulty coming to terms with the fact that their therapist is a dog that has read Macbeth. But beyond the utter absurdity of the situation underlies true commentary on emotion, expression, and the merits and challenges of therapy. 

The final image of the play is both hilarious and somehow profoundly striking. After an over-the-top, violent screaming match wherein Patricia calls Arnold a “fat ugly f—k,” they come together to finally relent the dog’s incessant pleas to just pet it.

Lastly, when the sun had set and darkness descended over the McMullen and its surroundings, the third and final play, written by Lucas Pratt, MCAS ’23, and directed by Kariotis, began.

In Calamity’s Wake provided a stark tonal shift from the world of a talking dog therapist. The play took place in a post-apocalyptic world plagued by shades—some sort of monsters—and natural disasters. 

Two survivors, Harry (Franny Giangiulio, MCAS ’23) and Ben (Casey Corcoran, MCAS ’26) met each other in a potentially abandoned house and tried their best to find trust in one another in a world descended into anarchy. 

The absurdity of this play shined through a different lens than it did in the first two, as instead of laughing, the audience was on edge as Harry and Ben attempted to reconcile with each other despite their extreme circumstances. 

But In Calamity’s Wake was just as impactful as the other plays, as it asked probing questions about humanity, trust, and friendship in a terrifying situation. 

Even as an entirely student-run, outdoor event, with no special effects or sound, basic lighting, and small casts, Absurdities still managed to cut deep. 

April 23, 2023