Photo courtesy of Boston College Theatre Department / Facebook

New Voices 2018: Boston College's Own Playwrights

During the dreary third weekend of February, the small Bonn Studio Theater inside Boston College's Robsham Theater was transformed into first a place far from grace and then a spare bedroom in Wynnewood, Penn. Directed by Scott T. Cummings and hosted by the Boston College Theater Department, New Voices 2018 was the premier showing of The Things We Do by Taylor Badoyen, MCAS '19, and Get It Together by Michael Quinn, MCAS '19. The last New Voices production was held in 2013.

As the lights dimmed in the small theater, the audience was transported to an alternate world which the characters call “the realm.” A portal opens and an individual—later known as Lex—jumps through. He is confused and disoriented about where he is and why he is no longer in the “domain.” The two other characters, Sam and Rae, explain the cycles of the realm. Sam explains that no one can leave the realm and that each of the three individuals will experience three falls: the first fall will leave them disoriented and wanting to learn more about the realm and what it has to offer, the second fall will result in a better understanding of the realm, and the third fall will make them forget. The cycle then begins again.

The original conception of the play involved the individuals' attempts to reach the Gates of Heaven. “But that almost seemed too simple and almost too uneventful,” said Badoyen. “[I] transformed the play into something more, something that was less about Heaven and more about an exploration of self and one’s ideology in an environment where memory cannot be sustained for too long, requiring a constant flux of ideas and discoveries regarding each of the characters’ philosophies.”

During The Things We Do, the individuals wrestle with why they are in the realm and if they will ever escape. Lex, especially, has extreme difficulty with the question of whether or not he is worthy to enter the Gate. His failure to recognize his worth is what keeps him from walking through the Gate with his companions at the end of the production. The lack of answers in the play is intentional. Badoyen said, “[My] characters are exploring what they believe in and are discovering what they think makes a difference in their world,” and these are the same thoughts that Badoyen wanted the audience to leave with.

As the lights rose, the stage crew went to work transforming the realm into a spare bedroom based on Quinn’s sister’s room back home. They hung pictures, made the bed, and placed a large stuffed panda bear on the side of the stage.

Just as before, the audience gathered, the lights dimmed, and the second production began. Get It Together, written by Michael Quinn, focuses on two college students, Mary and Harold. They reminisce about shared memories from high school and, in particular, the first interaction they had when they were freshmen.

With a party happening downstairs, they discuss their majors, poetry, family matters, Harold’s girlfriend of whom Mary isn’t fond, and more. The production portrays a very realistic interaction between two teenagers; but, more than that, the play also touches on important topics such as abortion, marijuana use, hook-up culture, and the importance of sensitivity and talking about one's feelings. “People should express themselves and be in touch with themselves and their emotions,” Quinn writes. “It’s all we’ve got.”

In the play, Harold begins to break the mold of a stereotypical “tough guy,” discussing real difficulties in his life. He admits that his romantic relationship is falling apart, his parents’ marriage is shaky, and he’s not happy with the everyday cycle of existing during the day and drinking at night. The more that Mary and Harold talk, they realize that even though they have moved into different life situations, they have a strong connection with each other. “As with most things I write, I draw from my life and the lives of my friends. With a little exaggeration or adjustment to make it a proper story,” Quinn writes. Quinn’s play concludes with Mary and Harold exchanging a passionate kiss and breaking the sexual tension that has filled the air for the duration of the play. The theater went dark for a moment before the space filled with the audience's applause.

Even though the two productions seem to be completely different in terms of characters and setting, The Things We Do and Get It Together both explore larger issues about sensitivity and internal beliefs, and raise questions about what is yet to come. Both Badoyen and Quinn have been honored to be a part of the New Voices program and plan to continue writing and being involved in theater.

 

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