2014 Best Student Actor: Zach Jones as Chip in The Boston Conservatory's "On the Town"

Although we have announced our 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award Winners, we continue our Nominee Interview Series. 

NOTE: If you or your production was nominated for a 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in a Nominee Interview, please email us here.

Few performers "wow'd" us in 2014 like Zach Jones.  A rising senior at The Boston Conservatory, Zach has the triple threat with a side punch of a charming smile; a kick of an abundance of energy; and the love, respect, and work ethic to tackle any project.  His Chip in The Boston Conservatory's On the Town was a standout in a production that exceeded expectations, dancing, singing, and smiling into our hearts.  In his Interview, Zach explains conservatory life, his strong relationships with his co-stars in On the Town, and some of his guilty pleasures.

Photo by Julia Gannon

Photo by Julia Gannon

Hi, Zach, can you introduce yourself to our ArtsImpulse readers?  Who are you, where are you from, what is your performing background? 

Hello!  My name is Zach Jones and I am a rising senior at The Boston Conservatory!  Huzzah!  I hail from the west suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, where I grew up with my mother, Robyn, and two brothers, Austin and Sean.  My performance career began when I was five years old shortly after my older sister, Felicia, passed away.  Felicia was an all-star big sister and all-around wonderful young person.  She took piano lessons, played softball, danced at the park district, was a total bookworm, and really took care of my brothers and me in our early years of life. 

When she was 10 years old, she passed away from an acute pancreatitis.  At the annual dance recital that year, friends and families brought flowers, expressed their sentiments to my mother, and asked if “the boys” were going to start dancing.  Before she could say, “No…”, my brothers and I jumped and screamed, “Yes!”, and from that summer on, we were hooked.  After 13 years of dance (10 years being a part of the Aspire Dance Company), 9 years of choir, 7 years of theater, and 18 years of my life, I had no idea what the future would hold.  Or what I even wanted to do for the rest of my life.  For as much time as I dedicated to the performing arts, I had never considered pursuing dance, or theater professionally.  Then again, I had yet to really think about any career.  But I remember something one of my high school teachers told me.  She said to do something that filled me with passion.  To work hard at everything I do, but build my life on something I enjoy.  When I could not picture my life without performing, I knew I had made my decision to become an artist.  But I didn’t just want to dance.  I wanted to expand my person and abilities to be able to work and express myself in all the ways I love to.  After not being able to schedule an audition because they were all full, getting an audition at the last minute because someone cancelled, having a wonderful audition experience, and, two months later, I was accepted to The Boston Conservatory!  Huzzah, once more! 

And since then I’ve been a part of numerous Mainstage productions at the conservatory (On The Town, The Pajama Game, Oklahoma!, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar); senior director projects (The Wild Party, Peter Pan, Urinetown); and outreach/fundraising performances, such as Disney’s On The Record, Post Secret Cabaret, Miscast Cabaret, and our annual drag show!  I have had nothing but wonderful experiences at BoCo.  I have learned so much already and look forward to the school year to come!

How does The Boston Conservatory prepare you to play roles in new and old musicals and plays?  What is the training program like? 

The conservatory prepares you to do practically anything.  Seriously.  Our teachers provide us with solid acting, vocal, and dance technique to safely, intellectually, and artistically explore the widest range of material.  We study the history of theater, history of musical theater, Shakespeare, and modern drama to expand our vocabulary and expose us to an unlimited number of styles.  In addition to studying IPA and dialects, we work on a bunch of texts, monologues, and speeches ranging from Greek to Shakespeare and beyond. 

The most important thing we learn is who we are as artists and people.  The conservatory helps each student to develop a personal aesthetic.  Our program is about digging deep into yourself, finding the human you are, artist you aspire to be, and cultivating that. We are not a “cookie-cutter” program. We are individuals striving for personal excellence. It is through strong technique and personal exploration that we are able to breath new life into classical characters.

Walk us through a typical day for you.  Where do you go?  What do you do in Boston? 

The typical day entails waking up, falling asleep, and a heck of a lot of in between. Some days, class starts as early as 8am and finishes around 7pm.  From 7:30pm to 11pm, I am usually in rehearsals for a show or school project.  After that, I’ll meet with scene partners, hit a practice room, or head home, Rice Bowl in hand, slap on some Netflix, and pass out.  Attending the conservatory is highly demanding, exhausting, and hard work.  But it is all worth it to do what I love, with people I love, in a city I love, every day.

Who was your character in On the Town?  What is his story?  How did you make the role your own? 

I played John Offenblock, but the fellas called me Chip!  Chip is a rather kooky guy.  A U.S. sailor from Peoria, he’s a family man through and through, with the biggest heart in the world.  He is dedicated to his family, friends, and country, but, most of all, his guidebook.  His father was in New York in 1934 and brought back a guidebook for Chip full of all the restaurants, buildings, and parks there.  Chip became fascinated and infatuated with the city, hoping one day, if only for a moment, he could see its beauty in the flesh.  So how fortunate for him when their unit docks in NYC and he has 24 hours on shore to see all the famous sights! 

Chip schedules the entire day around visiting everything in the guidebook, an ambitious, nearly impossible task.  When Gabey wants to meet the gorgeous, one and only Miss Turnstiles, Ozzie convinces Chip to put his plans on hold and go find her.  After the three split up, Chip stumbles upon, or is stumbled upon by Hildy, a wild, sexy, NYC taxi driver.  She shows him the town in ways that no guidebook ever could, and not just because the guidebook is incredibly out of date.  She teaches him to let go and realize life isn’t about the places you see, but the people you see them with.  And sex.  Lots of passionate sex. 

One of my favorite parts of discovering Chip was creating the guidebook.  I researched all of the places that he mentions in the text and filled the book with information, pictures, and quirky facts.  Using a prop I worked so hard on dropped me right into the period of the show and the organized nature of Chip. 

Another component to making Chip my own was working so closely with Michelle Chassé, my director and choreographer.  Michelle is a fantastic leader and collaborator.  In choreographing On The Town, she allowed so much room for discovery, play, and personality.  The story and relationships were constantly evolving, and having that space to work was tremendously helpful.

Tell us about your relationship with Ozzie and Gabey, and the actors playing them.  How about with Hildy, played by 2014 ArtsImpulse Award Nominee for Best Student Actor Mimi Scardulla? 

Ozzie and Gabey are Chip’s two best friends.  He looks up to the both of them a great deal.  Ozzie’s confidence is something Chip looks for in himself, and Gabey’s strength and heart remind him so much of home.  Gabey saved Ozzie and Chip’s lives and that really unites the three of them as brothers.  From that moment on they would do anything for each other.  Which is so much of what Jordan Ford (Gabey), Cameron Herbst (Ozzie), and I found working together. 

Before every show, the three of us would go into a studio in our sailor under garments, play music from the ‘30s and ‘40s, and give ourselves a little bootcamp.  Pushups, crunches, planks… the whole shebang.  Jordan and Cam are bigger guys, so I would try to keep up, much like Chip would.  The dynamic between the three of us was so much like the three of the sailors that performing with them was an absolute pleasure each and every night. 

Photo by Eric Antoniou

Photo by Eric Antoniou

The exact same with MiMi Scardulla (Hildy)!  Chip and Hildy were instantly attracted to each other.  She is dangerous, wild, and not afraid to get what she wants.  Hildy makes Chip spontaneous and impulsive, and he tames her, not a lot, but enough to really share genuine moments of care and love.  The two complement each other very well.  MiMi was such a dream to work with.  Having just come off of Cloud 9 together, MiMi and I knew each other very well and clicked instantaneously.  She is such a wonderful, loving person and generous partner that working with her was easy as pie.  MiMi is bold and unafraid to take risks, which opened me up to new choices, as well!  Hildy would write Chip cute little love letters for each show, wishing him "safe travels" and telling him how much she loved and missed him and leave them in my dressing room.  Any guy would be lucky to have MiMi Scardulla as a partner, and I hope I get to work with her again in the future!

What are some of the roles on your bucket list?  What about some roles that you’d never play, but you’d want to nonetheless? 

Jack from Into The Woods, Bobby Strong in Urinetown, Jimmy Harper in Reefer Madness, and Bobby in Company.  I would also love to be Velma Kelly.  I’ll leave that on the bucket list.

What do you consider to be your performing strength?  Performing weakness?

From the moment I step on stage, I am the happiest man alive.  There is nothing I’d rather be doing than living and breathing song and dance, and connecting with an audience.  I find my joy and love for what I do to be my biggest strength. 

My weakness would definitely be self-judgment.  I love to perform, but I too often worry what others think.  In the worst instances, my fear inhibits my work and sucks the joy out of it for me.  Learning to let go of fear is something I continue to work on.

What are some of your guilty pleasures? 

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  Lost.  Long showers.  Dominos pizza.  Mango margaritas.  Always.

What are some of your goals for 2015?  What are some of your career goals? 

I look forward to soaking up every bit of my senior year.  I want to grow as much as I can in the final stretch before I graduate.  My ultimate goal is to provide young, aspiring artists opportunities to pursue their dreams.  My mother has worked so many jobs and sacrificed so much to provide for my brothers and me, and I hope my success will allow me to alleviate that stress for similar families.  The arts have played such an important part in my life and the lives of many, and I want to be there for the ones who need it.  I want to help people find their happiness the way that so many have helped me.

What is one movie, play, musical, or story that has left a lasting impression on you?  Why? 

My friends are totally going to make fun of me for this, but the ABC television series Lost is everything.  I’ve seen it a bunch of times.  The show is about a plane crash on a mysterious island and much more generally about journey, redemption, and letting go. It’s a universal story of personal struggle, self-discovery, and love.  The thing that resonated most on my first watch was the characters.  All people hurt.  All people are learning.  And you never know the kind of life that a person has lived.  It inspired me to strengthen the way that I treat and relate to people.  To always be kind, curious, and eager for life.  Plus, it has the best quotes!  “All we really need to survive is one person who truly loves us.”  I mean, come on!  “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.” *cue tears running down my face.*  I highly recommend.

If I stole your iPod right now, what would be the “most listened to” song?  What would be the “last listened to” song? 

Ha!  My most listened to song would probably be Santo & Johnny’s “Sleepwalk.”  I listen to it every time I travel.  The one time I didn’t, it started playing in the airport!  Don’t know why, it’s just one of those songs.  J 

And the last listened to song is “Belief” by Gavin DeGraw.  No fun story, I just like the song.

Photo by Eric Antoniou

Photo by Eric Antoniou

How would your best friend describe your personality?  How would your mom describe your personality? 

Oh, boy.  In three words or less:  Friendly, Goofy, and Big.  My mom would call me a Diva, and leave it at that!  But, actually, she would probably describe me as reliable, mature, and loving.

Do you have any upcoming projects or productions? 

This summer I will be working in St. Louis at The Muny in Hairspray running from June 23rd-June 30th, and Beauty and the Beast playing July 27th through August 7th!  Then, I am back in Boston welcoming the incoming class of BoCo students as an Orientation Leader and preparing for senior year.  After that, we shall see!  J

Do you have anything else to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?

On The Town was a dream, playing Chip an absolute joy, and both will live in my heart forever.  I thank you so much for this nomination, your time, and “We’ll catch up some other time!”

2014 Best Set Designer Nominee Interview: Ghazal Hassani for Boston University's "columbinus"

Photo by Shaghayegh HZ

Photo by Shaghayegh HZ

Before we announce the winners of the 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Awards, we are proud to present our Nominee Interviews.

NOTE: If you or your production was nominated for a 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in a Nominee Interview, please email us here.

Ghazal Hassani boasts an incredible raw talent and hard work ethic as a scenic designer, excelling in her work as an MFA candidate at Boston University. In her first production, Ghazal reinforced the isolation and haunting reality of Columbine and its aftermath in her set design for columbinus. In her Interview, Ghazal tells about her experiences moving to the United States for graduate school, her research to prepare for columbinus, and some of her guilty pleasures.

Hi, Ghazal, thank you so much for interviewing with us.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m an international MFA candidate for Set Design at Boston University, originally from Iran, and this is my second year here in the United States. I’m actually new to theatre; columbinus was the first ever show that I designed. I have a BA in Russian Literature and a minor in Interior Design. I started a very long journey that ended up here and I couldn’t be happier; I think this is it, theatre is my new home.

What is the play columbinus?  How did you get involved in the BU CFA’s production?

Well, imagine this: You just got here to a foreign country, English is your third language, you barely know what proscenium arch is and they ask you to design a show on the Main Stage. I was so scared, I asked them “But aren’t you going to teach me how first?” They said “No! You’ll probably die doing it but you’ll learn!” And that’s how it started.

I was so lucky to be part of a very caring and passionate team, the amount of love and generosity was unbelievable. Special thanks to design and production team; they were with me every step of the way and I learned a lot from them. We were in rehearsals every night, the collaboration between design team and director and actors was one of the most special aspects of this production and I believe it shows perfectly.

columbinus is talking about a lot of issues. It brings the attention to the gaps in different social systems, and it targets all the relations, starting from the smallest groups, between high school kids, the parents, the teachers. . . . And it goes up to show the same disconnection among bigger parts of community, like the educational system, judiciary system, etc.  It’s brave in showing us all sides, not judging.

What are your memories of the Columbine shooting?  What research did you do to prepare your set design?

I was back in Iran when the Columbine shooting happened. I’ve heard it in news but I actually have more vivid memories of Virginia Tech shooting. I had to learn a lot before I start designing for this show. I researched in detail about the shooting itself and anyone involved, along with the history of mass shootings in the US, Columbine High School, gun laws, psychology, high school life in US, and anything else related to story of the play. Then I had to start research for the design aspect, buildings in Colorado, architecture, corporate and commercial buildings, educational buildings, construction and different types of concrete and many, many more. The list is endless but it was so important to know all of this. 

Talk to us about your process as a set designer.  How do you begin?  What steps are involved?  Who else is involved in this process?

I begin with research; I have to learn as much as I can about details of what makes the story, and the playwright him/herself. After I feel that I have a good grasp of what is going on in the story and why, then I can start thinking about the space. I usually find it very helpful to look for something that resembles the story for me, it could be a work of art or a photo or a piece of music. Then, I study the similarities to realize what are the features that are standing up for me. Most of the times the director is the first one with whom I talk. The first conversations with the director and design team are my favorite part of the process. It’s just so rich and helpful.

Photo by Ghazal Hassani

Photo by Ghazal Hassani

Describe your set for us.  What themes or ideas did you try to reinforce in the physical set and its presence?  How did this support other technical elements for this production?

After reading the play, I immediately knew that I was not going to design a typical high school; it needed to be more of a general yet commercial architecture since I believed the story is more than just high school, it talks about different systems in society. You could feel the coldness and the isolation, as if the building was frozen at early stages of an explosion, there were gaps in between all the walls and the ceiling. But my favorite part was the explosion vortex itself which was hidden until act III. The audience gasped every night as we started lighting it while actors were walking through the aisles to get on stage. That explosion was the open wound that’s still bleeding today. It was ugly and unsettling and the power was to sit and have it open in front of you as the story was moving on.

Have you designed other sets?  Have you designed other technical elements for other productions?

This year, I designed the set for BU production of W;t by Margaret Edson which was staged at The Roberts Studio, Boston Center for the Arts; and The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca, and a new play, The Tall Girls by Meg Miroshnik, both at the CFA of Boston University. I also designed the costumes for both last shows. I also assisted in our production of Angels in America, a collaboration between School of Theartre and The Opera Institute. I did props for The Adding Machine, another production on our Main Stage at BU.

Of what are you most proud from your stage work?  How about in your personal life?

Although I deeply love all the shows that I worked on, columbinus has a very special place in my heart.

In my personal life, the fact that I’m here, following my dream, is my biggest achievement in life. I didn’t grow up in an easy environment; life is hard in my country, especially for women. There’s nearly no room to grow, hope considers to be a dangerous illusion, freedom is a myth and dreams are luxuries that no one can afford. But I just couldn’t settle down, I had a dream and I worked my way through all the adversities to get here, with no money, no connections, and no one to show me the way. I’m not gonna hide, I’m pretty proud of it!

What do you like to do on a rainy day?

I really prefer to stay inside on a rainy day, have a nice cup of tea with sweet treats, read or watch movies. Just lying in bed would do perfectly as well, considering sleep is such a luxury in grad school.

What is your guilty pleasure?  Do you have any bad habits?

Oh, I have lots of them, and carbohydrates are the main ingredient in all of them! I don’t know if having sugar cones filled with peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and Nutella for breakfast considers a bad habit or not! 

What is different about designing or working under a university rather than an independent theatre?  What is similar?

Well, I can’t really answer that question since I’ve only worked inside university.  I assisted some of my teachers and friends in shows last summer, but I have not design by myself. But I can say our program at BU is very vigorous and by that I mean very hard core. The goal is to make us ahead of the game and ready to work in all diverse types of theatre industry.

Do you have any idols or mentors?  Why?

Yes, there are a lot of people mostly artists, poets, writers, journalists, and social workers that are a symbol of resilience for me. Ahmad Shamloo, Samad Behrangi, Iran Darroudi, Zaha Hadid, Oriana Fallaci… are just a few to name. Looking up to them, I learned how to fight for my beliefs. But my mentor here is my professor, James Noone. He is the head of Scenic Department in our school, and it’s a privilege to have him as my advisor; he taught me how to design for theatre from scratch. 

Do you have any upcoming projects or productions?

It’s hard to plan for future when you are an international student on an F1 visa. I take life as it comes, which is thrilling and nerve-racking at the same time. I might have some projects for this summer, and I know I’m designing some shows in our next season of BU.   

Do you have anything else to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?

Thank you for having me and many thanks to ArtsImpulse for acknowledging the university productions of different shows. 

2014 Best Ensemble in a Play Nominee Interview: Boston University College of Fine Art's "columbinus"

Photo by Danny Kim

Photo by Danny Kim

Hi, Ivy, Ian, and Isabel.  Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed as part of our Nominee Interview Series.  We are delighted to hear from so many of our Nominees, especially those who make a strong ensemble in a production.  Can you start by introducing yourselves to our readers?

Photo by Tara Lynn Sen

Photo by Tara Lynn Sen

Ivy Ryan (IR): My name is Ivy Ryan I am a rising senior Acting major at BU and I’m from Mill Valley, California, just outside of San Francisco. I’m currently in the basement of a Café Nero, yelling into a phone, finishing my semester abroad in London.

Ian Geers (IG): My name is Ian Geers. I graduated from BU School of Theatre in 2014. I come from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and am currently on tour with The National Players.

Isabel Schnall (IS): And I’m Isabel Schnall, I’m from Manhattan, and I’m am also a rising senior Acting major at BU. I’ve just finished my semester studying Classical Acting at LAMDA in London!

How would you sum up columbinus in 50 words or less?  Who were your characters in columbinus?

IR: I played Faith. Faith is a stock character that stands for the naïve, goody-two-shoes, all-American girl. My favorite character to play, though, was Ruth, one of the mothers of a Columbine student, who appeared in Act Three.

columbinus as a play dissects the isolation and lack of communication felt by many high schoolers all across America. The playwrights explore how this isolation has repercussions in the community of Littleton, Colorado.

Photo by Peter Schnall

Photo by Peter Schnall

IG: I played Jock, who stands for all the sports kids at Columbine High School and then minor characters in Acts Two and Three.

[The play is] a community’s attempt to try and figure to what happened surrounding the events of April 20, 1999.

IS: I played Perfect, who stood for the “popular” girl stereotype in high school, and then in [Act Three], I played Kate Battan who was the lead detective on the Columbine case, as well as other minor characters.

colombinus is an artistic representation of real people trying to navigate life before, after, and during a traumatic event. It’s about communication, and lack thereof, and how people hate, love, fight, and deal with one another.

What was the biggest challenge about doing this play?

IR: the most difficult thing about this show was prioritizing the impact on the audience versus our own catharsis as actors.

IG: Putting your own actor ego aside and trying to do justice to these people. Because these are not just characters that you’re playing. Trying to tell all these stories accurately and honestly and not adding “actor polish” to anything.

IS: I agree. The biggest challenge was trying to really honor the words and thoughts that these people have had, in a way that doesn’t turn them into stage-characters or “types”. Also to not judge the people who I’m playing or who others are playing, and just listen to the stories being told.

What was the biggest reward?

IR: The biggest reward was the spark of interest that anyone who worked on or saw our show walked away with.

IG: The biggest reward was when audience members wanted to continue the conversation after the show, and when they were open, and willing to talk about how to prevent these things from happening and how to move on when tragedy strikes. When audiences want to have conversations like that instead of just praising the show.

IS: The biggest reward was the feeling that our show was important. Not that all theater isn’t important and without a voice, but that these stories deserved to be told and that people who came to see it really came to listen and ask questions.

What is your training at BU CFA?  How did it prepare you for these roles?  For other theatre projects or productions?

We all were (or still are) Acting Majors at BU SOT, and our major, as well as the entire school, is incredibly ensemble- and group-oriented. We learn very early that the best work is not done alone or with your own script, but on your feet and with other people.

Every class at BU talks about this, and how to come at the work in this way, and, because of that, we were all able to enter the room with the same vocabulary. We could trust the things that we had learned and really focus on each other. It was always about the other person. That’s a huge lesson that we learn in our training.

What kind of theatre do you love to perform?  To see?

IR: I like theater that makes me think or question. About the story first and foremost. And always with an element of surprise. Theater that’s not overshadowed by a concept or star-power, but about bodies in the space working together to get a message across.

IG: I like theater that has a social impulse behind it, and will hopefully charge its audience to action. And Shakespeare.

IS: I love seeing new plays and hearing brand new playwright voices. I also like theater that has a specific message in mind and really wants to speak to its audience. Theater that I’m still talking about after the train ride home.

What are some of your favorite things to do in Boston?

IR: My favorite things to do in Boston include sunbathing on the benches outside of 855 Commonwealth Ave, going to a Red Sox game, and spending the afternoon with friends in The Boston Common.

IG: Walking around the city and just taking in all the history, every neighborhood feels like you’ve entered into a different city. And Codzilla.

IS: Finding parts of the city I’ve never seen before. And being continuously on the search for a bagel that meets NY standards.

Why do you think that columbinus earned a Best Ensemble nomination?

Photo by Amanda Rowan

Photo by Amanda Rowan

IR: Never before colombinus had I truly existed in such an ensemble-based environment. Every voice was heard. Every person on that artistic team fully supported each other. We put our own goals aside for the greater goal. I miss that ensemble all the time so it doesn’t surprise me that that energy was palpable to others. It was the strongest and most generous group of actors with whom I have ever worked.

IG: I think the show is about ensemble. Our director talked very early on about how the play was not about the two boys, Dylan and Eric, but was about the community response to what happened. And so knowing the show was about the whole community, including the boys, we always went on as an ensemble. All eight of us were integral to the play, we couldn’t go on without one of us there. And that was inherent in everything about the show.

IS: Ensemble was the word on everyone’s tongue throughout the entire process. The whole message of the show is about learning to listen and communicate, and so I think we all began to practice what we preached and really listen to each other. We became like one body moving on stage, and a lot of the directing and design elements highlighted that as well. It was also always, despite the heavy nature of the play, a constant joy to be with everyone. The room was always filled with love.

If we all went on a road trip, where would we go?  What would you want to do?  What snacks are we packing?

IR: The original flavor goldfish and gummy worms. My goal before I die is to go to all 50 states and I’ve been to 25 already. Top states are Maine, Georgia, and Florida. I’ll pack the sunscreen . . . 

IG: Plantain chips and wasabi peas. I would want to go somewhere all three of us have never been. Maybe the south-west?

IS: Chocolate. And Ian will do all the driving because I’m a true New Yorker through and through and I don’t have my license. I’ll follow them around happily in the passenger seat, preferably to somewhere warm. I want to see the larger and most beautiful parts of the country, like Colorado.

What is one moment in columbinus that stood out to you?  What is one memory from the production process?

IR: The moment that pulled on my heart strings every single night was the moment when I got to reunite with my “daughter” (AKA Isabel) because I think that’s the truest moment where I’ve ever felt a sliver of what its like to love like a parent. To feel for a moment that those kids weren’t just children, that they were high schoolers and someone I could have known. Also, Ian gives great hugs too.

The first rehearsal during our read through, sitting at that table with such an incredible group of designers and collaborators. Seeing all our names labeled on our cups, and thinking, this is it. The lightness in the room despite how deeply passionate we were about such a serious and tragic story.

IG: I always loved when the audiences didn’t know what to do at the end of the second act. And then in the show, I think the entire third act was really beautiful.

The day in rehearsal when Clay asked us what we, as an ensemble, are championing as the message of our production. He talked about how the play asks several questions and gives several answers, so it was important for us as an ensemble to agree on what our cause was and what we all wanted to tackle as a production. And we agreed all together that communication was what we wanted to take on. It got everyone on the same page to tell the same story. 

IS: There was something always spellbinding about walking into the theater together from the back of the audience at the top of the third act, after a (usually) completely silent intermission, and seeing the “explosion” at the back of the set revealed. I got goose-bumps every night.

I would also say the first rehearsal we all had together. That first moment of sitting at a table with actors, designers, and collaborators whom I fiercely admired and respected and knowing that we were going to create something beautiful together. Also every rehearsal that our amazing stage-managing team brought in sweets to make hard moments a little easier.

Photo by Danny Kim

Photo by Danny Kim

Do you have any upcoming projects or productions?

IR: Stay tuned! I will be in four shows in the upcoming school year at BU, including my culminating senior thesis in the winter.

IG: I’ll be doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged], and Shrek: The Musical at Oklahoma Shakespearian Festival this summer.

IS: I’ll be spending the next five weeks in London and hopefully working with a theatre company there, and then a full BU season next year, including my thesis as well!

Do you have anything else that you wish to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?

IR: Read the play. It’s worth your time.

IG: Thank you for recognizing the work that we did! Thank you.

IS: Thank you for seeing the same strength in our ensemble that we felt! And to surround yourself with people you love often and always.