Coming of Age Issues Addressed in Student Directed Show

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Student-directed show “This is Our Youth” may be the perfect show for college students to see. Centered around three young people who are figuring out life and all of its mysteries, it is extremely realistic and relatable.

Senior musical theatre major Nathan Wilson is directing the show. Wilson talked about why the characters were of a big interest to him

“I wanted to direct a show with a small ensemble so that I could give the cast the chance to portray characters that are close to their own ages,” Wilson said. “In most shows at school, they expect us to play roles where we’re 35 and 50 years old and I wanted them to experience acting in a role that is similar to their age.”

Junior musical theatre major Savannah Lee, who plays Jessica, talked about why she thinks the show will appeal to audience members of all ages.

“We’re so separate in what we’ve experienced, but our youth is all the same,” Lee said. “It can either go really well or really badly, and it’s so exhilarating and terrifying. I think it connects every generation. We all have those same experiences.”

A small cast of only three characters, each of the actors as well as the director expressed their positive experiences with working with such a small group. Wilson described certain things that they did as a cast in order to allow the actors to be comfortable with each other, and how essential it was to the development of the production.

“We did some ensemble building exercises and once we started blocking, everything moved very quickly,” Wilson said. “I don’t think it would have gone that smoothly had we not done that ensemble building.”

“This is Our Youth” is a show with a variety of different messages and statements and much to take away from. Sophomore musical theatre major Jeremy Gee, who is playing Dennis, talked about the tendency older generations have to criticize young people and the way they live life, and why that is not always fair.

“We’re the same way as they used to be,” Gee said. “So, they can’t say we’re not living the way we should be living because we’re doing the exact same things that they did. What gives them the right to tell us that we’re not doing things the right way?”

On the subject of criticism from elders, Sophomore theatre major Adonis Banuelos, who is playing Warren, talked about the irrationality of the constant judgment that young people often receive and how this play encourages those guilty of this behavior to look a little deeper into the situation.

“You can’t just grow up,” Banuelos said. “When adults tell you to act your age, well, we’ve never been this age before. It’s a learning process. It’s not just something you do.”

Wilson talked about more of the different messages that the show is sending out and what the story can tell different viewers from different generations.

“You start as a child, you have this personality then you get older and you change,” Wilson said. “You find that you don’t even recognize who this person once was. It’s terrifying that 20, 25 years from now when you’re 40, 50 years old that you may not recognize the person that you are now with all of these hopes, and ideals and dreams. Are you going to even recognize yourself?”

Gee also talked about the ways that multiple age groups can relate to the show in different ways.

“Regardless of what your circumstances are, when you were born and how you were raised, you’re going to have this struggle of learning who you are and why you’re here on earth,” Gee said. “Eventually you’re going to get to the point you’re supposed to be at.”

Banuelos talked about the journey everyone goes through when transitioning from youth to adulthood.

“Everyone has dreams and that’s cool but the difference is, there are people who just dream, and there are people that make it happen,” Banuelos said. “You have one life to live so you might as well make it a damn good one.”

Wilson talked about how growing older tends to open your eyes to everything that can go wrong in life and with that, we forget to enjoy life in the current moment.

“You get older and the veil of innocence is pulled off of your face and you think you have worry about everything,” Wilson said. “You forget to enjoy things. That’s the thing that’s been really important about this show.”

“If I learned anything, it’s that getting hurt is inevitable,” Lee said. “Letting your walls down, you’re letting in shitty things, you’re letting in hurt, but you might be letting in love. And that’s the best thing that anyone could get. So, why not take that risk? Everything is going to be okay. It’s going to be fine.”

Wilson also commented on what the show tells the audience about trusting in the future and believing that things will work out the way they are supposed to.

“No matter what happens, no matter how hard things get, or how great things gets, you’re going to get where you need to be,” Wilson said. “We’re all so worried about the destination, we’re not enjoying what’s happening around us. That’s what I think the most important part of youth is. Enjoying life and not getting so caught up in the expectations.”

Both student-directed shows will run from Wednesday, November 18 through Saturday, November 20 in the Showcase Theater of the University Theatre Center. To purchase tickets contact the UTC box office at 936-294-1339.