University Theatre presents 'Really Really' in March

Thomas Boyle (left) and Spenser Stokes in University Theatre's "Really Really"
Thomas Boyle (left) and Spenser Stokes in University Theatre's "Really Really"

University Theatre presents 'Really Really' in March

03 Mar 2014    

University Theatre presents "Really Really" at the Studio Theatre March 5-8 and 11-16.
University Theatre presents "Really Really" at the Studio Theatre March 5-8 and 11-16.

University Theatre presents “Really Really” by Paul Downs Colaizzo and directed by Lecturer Laura Lippman.

“Really Really” premiered at The Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va., in 2012 and ran Off-Broadway in a 2013 production directed by David Cromer.

“It’s exciting to work on material that is so current.” Lippman said. “The language reflects the audience that is going to come and see it. It’s perfect for a college campus—the play speaks to that generation.”

The play focuses on what the writer, and others, have dubbed “Generation Me.”

“I suppose, in a way we can all relate to aspects of Generation Me. Ultimately, we just want to be happy.” Lippman said. “The playwright, however, is focusing on college graduates and the pressures that go along with that part of their lives.”

The play takes place senior year on a college campus with a cast of seven undergraduate actors from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. The major dramatic question that the play asks is—What are you willing to do to get what you want? And what are you going to do to get it?

“The characters are about to graduate, and they’re trying to figure out how to make their lives work when the America that they were promised is not the one they’re being given,” Lippman said. “The major event in the play is a keg party and the events that happen that night.”

Set designer Travis Jensen has designed the space in the Studio Theatre to have alley seating, so the audience is literally split in half on either side of the stage.

“Some of the play’s questions address the events that occur at the party between two of the characters—but we’re never really sure what actually happens.” Lippman said. “So, one of the questions the play asks the audience is: Whose side are you on? The fact that the audience configuration is split means that the minute audience members walk into the theatre, they have to choose a side, which I think is a wonderful metaphor for the events that happen in the play.”

Tony Thomas, a senior theatre major from Vermillion, S.D., plays “Jimmy,” the boyfriend of the central character, Leigh. Thomas says the play is really about survival.

“At its core, ‘Really Really’ is about survival. It is specific to the current generation of students and our resilience,” he said. “Every character in the show has a moment where they have to decide to sacrifice something in order to help themselves survive. It may be hard, but the characters know they have to do it, because it’s what will keep them alive.”

Kirstie Smith, a senior theatre major from Potter, Neb., says this generation tells their own version of its narrative through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

“We live in a generation where we have much more control of the image of ourselves that we project to the outside world,” Smith said. “So what happens when we say nothing? Do others assume the worst about us, stand up for us, ignore us or speak for us? ‘Really Really’ invites the audience to explore any and all possibilities for the expression of narratives.”

Lippman feels audiences of all ages will relate to the events in the play.

“Though it focuses on a college graduation, it’s something we can all understand as we try and deal with life’s pressures.” She said. “We’re all trying to make our lives work, but the landscape keeps on changing. Just when we think that we are secure in our jobs or secure in what we know we want to do, something shifts and doesn’t go according to plan, and then we have to roll with the punches.”

“’Really Really’ has some surprises that you don’t see coming,” Lippman said. “I hope audiences will see something of themselves on stage—both the likeable and unlikeable parts of themselves.”

Thomas says the audience should not come to the play expecting anything.

“When telling people to come to the show, I’ve sort of intentionally kept them in the dark about the details of the show, just so they don’t come in with any preconceived ideas about it,” Thomas said. “The audience should just come in and be prepared to enjoy a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. We hope that if an audience member decides that they don’t like a character (or really love a character, for that matter), that we can change their view of them to the opposite side of the spectrum and possibly back again.”

Smith agrees.

“Don't judge any one character too quickly before hearing all sides of their narrative,” she said.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on March 5-8 and 11-15 and at 2 p.m. March 16 in the Studio Theatre, located on the first floor of the Temple Building. Tickets are $16 adults, $14 faculty/staff and senior citizens and $10 students with ID. Tickets are available in advance from the Lied Center Box Office, (402) 472-4747 or (800) 432-3231, one hour prior to the performance in the Temple Lobby and online at UNL Theatre Tickets.