Debuted on March 3, “Everybody,” the newest play from the SUNY New Paltz Theater department, truly was live and in person in Parker Theatre this past week.
“Everybody” is a play adaptation of the 15th century “Everyman,” which is an adaptation of a play even older than that, written as a response to the Black Death. During every performance, the cast pulls a name out of a hat and the cast member’s name that is picked will play the main role. There are over 120 possibilities of how this show can go, so the show will never be the same twice. “No carbon copies,” said director and theater arts department faculty member Brittany Proia. “Working with the students is fantastic, and the cast members are extraordinarily talented.”
Although Proia wasn’t part of the decision making for the show, she has always loved the play adaptation and was very happy with the department’s choice. Proia always uses the play in her class to teach; the show is spontaneous, structured and not traditional in the slightest. The general gist of the play is a dark humored spin on what happens in the afterlife. When the main character finds out he is dying, he goes on a journey to find out more about it.
The uncertainty the actors face right before curtain when being chosen for the main role is the same uncertainty and confusion that the human race has toward the afterlife, making the play a curious and enthusiastic story to tell and be told. Not only that, but cast member Zach Tashoff said, it is a “truly unique experience,” and that he “couldn’t have asked for a better show to be my last one here.” The cast members are excited to work with the audience and perform a very interactive show.
This play is a thriller for the audience, but especially for the actors. Cast member Parker Howland said, “as performers, to react spontaneously and stay present in our scenes” is very challenging, but also isn’t a challenge they can’t handle. Howland also said that he looks forward to the audience’s reaction every night. Due to the challenges this play takes on, the actors have become very close on and off-stage. “In a show like this one, that sense of community, support and trust is extremely important,” said Howland.
The aspect of the lottery gives “the metaphor to represent the idea that we have no control over what lives we are placed in and when it is our time to pass on,” said cast member Benjamin Giordano. Giordano also loves the cast’s willingness to take on the task of going over scenes multiple times. “Come with an open mind and heart so we can go on this journey together,” he said.
The play is truly a journey in itself — going through the stages of grief, knowing you will soon pass on. Finding out what is beyond death is the true story.
The “hilarious comedy about very serious things,” as Proia called it, has taken full wind. Every cast member has taken the role in a completely different way, and are all fighting for who gets to play it first. “This play about death is a celebration of life,” said Howland. The life is in the audience. There is no dull moment in this show; the excitement in the viewers reflected the performance of the play. This unlikely turn of events make it a night to remember for “Everybody” involved.
Even with the struggle of the recent snow storm and rehearsal cancellations during tech week, they still managed to remain confident in their show and their performances. If you’re interested in seeing “Everybody,” the next showings will be in Parker Theater on March 23, 24 and 25 at 8 p.m., and March 26 at 2 p.m.