Original Student Play Clever, Unique
By Alejandra Ortega
A new, original, student-made play opened Saturday in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Theater. The play, written and directed by Gabriel Cooper, a Theater junior, offered a unique blend of comedy, drama, romance and comics.
“Understanding Emily” focuses on Glen Baxter, a comic book writer in the 1950s. His book, “Rival,” is based on Glenn’s examination of his past relationships. Unfortunately for him, the book is at risk of being cut. In hopes of saving “Rival” he tracks down an old flame, Elenore Stevens, and tries to win back her heart and find more stories to tell.
Cooper is not new to taking original work to the stage. Last year, Cooper and his older brother, Jacob Cooper, put together “The Outstanding Eight.” Because it was a great experience, said Cooper, he decided to do it again this year.
The play has been in development for about a year. Cooper first worked on the idea after “The Outstanding Eight” closed. After several months of rethinking and redefining the play, a draft was complete.
“I discovered a lot of things about myself through this process. Considering this play is loosely autobiographical it was a rough process,” said Cooper. “The actors brought things to my attention that I never realized and really didn’t want to. It was fascinating and life changing. I couldn’t ask for a better cast.”
Casting was done a week before winter break, and rehearsals began in February. Since then, the actors have been working together to bring life to these new characters.
“It is easier because you can go, for the most part, wherever you want with the character,” said Zachera Wollenberg, a Theater junior, as well as the actress who portrayed Elenore Stevens. “Harder because the entire process of character creation is on your shoulders, so there is a lot of pressure.”
The cast had fantastic chemistry between each other. With each line and conversation, the actors fed off each other, and portrayed believable characters. Cooper’s dialogue is unique and funny, but still realistic. He managed to make a bridge between comedy, drama and romance in one play.
“I hope that the audience leaves with thoughts of how the media, books, television and movies really create this fantasy based on how love really is and how love should be,” said Curran Jacobs, a bachelor of fine arts in acting senior, who portrayed Glen Baxter. “In the real world, not everyone has a happily ever after. Also, that people should love who they are with, and fight for them with all of their hearts and not give up so easily.”