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Students reflect as actors, and as millennials

March 9, 2017
students in swimsuits on a stage platform, with 4 of them circled(University photo / credit: J. Adam Fenster)

That Poor Girl and How He Killed Her
a new play by emerging playwright Jen SilvermanNow playing at Todd Theatre:
Wed-Sat, March 8-11, 7 p.m.
Sun, March 5, 2 p.m.
$8 for students
$12 for alumni, faculty, staff, and seniors (65+)
$15 general public

With spring on the horizon, the International Theatre Program at the University of Rochester presents Jen Silverman’s That Poor Girl and How He Killed Her—a dark comedy on the social lives of millennials.

New York City-based guest director Knud Adams says the play “has a wealth of credible, sympathetic characters,” even as it’s “send-up of the most vain, self-indulgent, social-anxious aspects of youth culture today.”

But what do the cast members—who are the same age as the characters in the play—think? They reflect on the performance with the eyes of actors, but also as millennials.

Tori Powers ’18, who plays the character Alyssa, says there’s more to the characters’ lives than meets the eye. “All the characters in the play have their own story that is more than what is being shown on stage,” she says.

Powers identified with some aspects of her character, but found others presented more of a challenge. “I think being close in age to the character, and having the play set in the same time, helped me connect with Alyssa,” she says. “Yet, at the same time, I had to grow a backbone to play Alyssa. She is this pretty, rich girl who’s friends with the ‘popular’ people, and also the not-so-‘popular’ people.” Powers notes that Alyssa attends an Ivy League college—something that makes Alyssa “this character with confidence.”

Yumeng Liu ’18, who plays Bianca, feels the same kind of dichotomy. “Bianca is a person who really wants to be popular and cool. And in her opinion, joining this group led by Mackenzie is the key,” says Liu. “Being [a] different [person] can make me judge my character sometimes, but I tried to love her and understand Bianca, which can help a lot.”

Edward Sambrano ’17, who plays Connor, sees the play in a very similar light as the playwright, who is a millennial herself. “That Poor Girl is the story of a dangerously superficial and sensationalist culture—a reflection on the modern attitudes affecting groups of people our age,” he says. “Jen Silverman really makes you reflect, especially as a young adult, on these attitudes.”

Sambrano ’17 credits guest director Knud Adams for helping him improve his acting.

“As a first-time actor, I found it especially difficult to adopt the perspective of my character,” he says. “Knud Adams has made the process much easier by always pushing us to discover and explore the intentions of our characters’ actions.”

Nearly everyone commented on the challenge of performing on a raked stage—a design from early modern English theater in which the stage slopes upward, away from the audience.

“The stage took some getting used to, and it definitely took some practice to perfect some of the more physical scenes on this stage” says Tomas Waz ’20, who plays Jordan.

“It was scary at first,” says Liu. “I reached the upper half of the stage and realized I was crawling on all fours because I was scared to stand up.”

The fear didn’t last, however. “After a while, it’s really fun being up there,” she says.

 

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Category: Student Life