Student-directed play interprets mental illness and tragedy

Published by , Author: Megan Majercak - Rocket Contributor, Date: November 21, 2016
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From Thursday, Nov. 17 through Saturday, Nov. 19, the theatre department put on a play titled ‘Remembrance’ in Sheehy Theatre in Maltby.  The play was directed by SRU senior Phillip Bova and written by graduate student Tanner Sebastian.

The cast consisted of Slippery Rock students Joshua Gentile, Joseph Szalinski, Tajionna Anderson-Clinton, Rachel Lambert, AJ Sansonetti and Keyera Zarembinski.  The cast and crew have been working on the play since Oct. 24, Bova said.

‘Remembrance’ was the first full-length solo play Bova directed.  Bova did not get involved with acting at SRU until his sophomore year, and he found his love for directing when he took a directing class that spring, he said.  Since then, he was able to direct a ten-minute play and assistant-direct another.

“I love to direct and act and I think that having the background in acting has helped me become a better director,” he said.  “My favorite part is seeing the audiences’ reactions when I sit through the final product.  Knowing how much work the cast and production team has put in, and seeing it all come to life for new eyes, it’s really astounding.”

The show told the story of a family in a small town that gets ripped apart when a member of their family who suffers from mental illness murders fourteen people, including himself and his mother.  The tragedy leaves behind the family of the gunman, families of victims and the whole community unable to cope and wondering if they can ever forgive and love their brother again.

The play showcases that there are many ways to grieve and it is never easy to deal with loss and tragedy.  It also sent the message that mental illness is sometimes hidden, but can have everlasting effects.  It stressed how in the media, tragedies like this are common, but only stay on the news for a few weeks, yet they leave an impact on those involved forever.

‘Remembrance’ was actually inspired by the Sandy Hook Massacre of Dec. 2012.  The massacre did not consider the gunman and his mother, whom he also murdered, victims because they blamed the gunman and the parents for the massacre.  Sebastian hoped the play would have people reconsider how people viewed the parents of perpetrators, as they can be unfairly blamed as they did not wish for their child to commit the crime.

“It’s up to the audiences’ interpretations as to what they walk away with,” Bova said. “I wanted to approach the show so that people could see that suffering is natural, and that grief can be expressed in many ways, but that love always has a place in life, and can allow light to come back into people’s lives.”

The theatre department will also be putting on “A Christmas Carol” from Friday, Dec. 2 through Thursday, Dec. 8.

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