The Story of “Us”

Clark’s fifth biannual New Play Festival debuts second show

Monica Sager, Scarlet Staff

“Us” was written by Clark student, Toni Armstrong (‘19) and directed by Themal Ellawalla (‘17).

Audience members were welcomed into the Little Center Theater 15 minutes before the play started. They watched the “Us” actors’ portrayal of “Hot Lesbian Action.” A funny twist, all members were fully-dressed, and most scenes were just a few performers lying around or giving foot rubs.

“I’ve done a lot in my life, but I’ve never once given a curtain speech in front of hot lesbian sex,” Gino DiIorio, program director of theater, said.

“Us” is about the ways different people react to the same situation. The play started with Sienna (played by Mayrav Feynman (‘18) and Tam (played by Natalie Wolpert (‘18) finding a body. The audience learns that the girl found was Miriam’s (played by Sarah Drapeau (‘17) girlfriend. We watch the ways all three, Miriam’s friends (played by Emily Guare (‘18), Pawan Mirchandani (‘20), and Emma Kirkman-Davis (‘20), deal with the death of someone they knew dearly or not at all.

“Over the next three weeks, we’ll see work at different stages of development,” the program read. “Some will seem ready for full productions while others might still need rewrites and crafting.”

But “Us” seemed to be close—if not already—complete.

Out of the 80 or so people who came to opening night November 3, many had tears in their eyes during the play. Sniffles could also be heard, just a testament to how well Armstrong wrote the play.

The play was very well done. Closing night, November 5, was performed on the same level as opening night as tears were still shed and the Little Center was full.

“What’s most important isn’t the product, but the process that gives playwrights, directors, actors, and technical staff the opportunity to work collaboratively and find the voice of the play,” the program read.

And the collaborative work was evident. Lighting, designed by Maya Krantz (‘17), added to the mood of each scene, guiding where the audience looked. Sounds, designed by Spike Bleyer, set the intensity of the in between scenes, which was a great partnership with the projections designers, Sarah Kaplan (‘18) and Claire Sullivan.

Attendance is free with a college ID and $5 for general admission.

Clark University Players Society (CUPS) and the visual and performing arts department handed out New Play Festival punch cards. If students go to all six plays in the three weeks, DiIorio announced, they will receive a CUPS cup full of candy.