Small Production Tackles Huge Question

"Whose Life is it Anyway?" will premiere on March 30.
"Whose Life is it Anyway?" will premiere on March 30.

This semester’s Blackbox Production may be small, but it’s tackling a huge question.

“Whose Life is it Anyway?” directed by Brittney Pierri, follows Cl`aire Harrison, a successful sculptor fighting for her right to die after suffering quadriplegia (being paralyzed from the neck down) in a car accident. The show discusses the controversial issue of euthanasia and poses the title question to the audience.

“There’s so much gravity in this subject matter,” Frank Trezza, professor of theater arts and faculty advisor for the show, said. “The characters face complicated choices. It’s meant to make people think and question assumptions they have about certain situations.”

Pierri, a fourth-year theater studies major and director of this production, said she chose this play for its depth and controversial nature. Pierri originally chose a different medical play, but lost her performance rights when it started its run on Broadway. She was shown “Whose Life is it Anyway?” and was convinced this was the show for her.

“This show has more depth in terms of conflict and strikes more of a chord in terms of dramatic structure,” Pierri said. “There has been a performed version starring a male character and one with a female, and I chose the female version because there’s so much more wit and strength in Claire’s words.”

Third-year theater performance major Kat Gonzalez, who plays Claire, did a lot of work to get into character as she has never played a quadriplegic before.

“This was a huge challenge for me because I like to talk with my hands,” Gonzalez said. “I stretch before rehearsing so my hands are more relaxed. I would lie down in bed and tie myself up with belts to feel what it was like not to be able to move. I also talked to people in wheelchairs. I felt like they’ve been living with what they have for so long, they have embraced it, but that’s what my character didn’t want.”

The play begins with a scene added to the production of Claire before the accident, sculpting a piece of clay onstage. It later divulges into a legal battle and touches upon the sanity of Claire, determining the fine line between clinically depressed and reacting to the situation. Part of Gonzalez’s character work involved her defending herself and debating whether or not she suffered from depression.

“The audience sees me before the accident sculpting something and doing what I’m passionate about and I think that’s necessary because they get to see just how much I’m losing,” Gonzalez said. “If I’m going to die, I want to die with dignity.”

“Whose Life is it Anyway?” will run from Friday, March 30 to Sunday, April 1 in Parker Theatre.