Posts Tagged Pulitzer Prize finalist
A team of young soccer players in Sarah DeLappe’s play “The Wolves” start out with routine banter, typical of young girls, as they do pre-match warm-up sessions. A Pulitzer Prize finalist, the play offers a rich insight into the minds and hearts of young girls. It is inspiring and emotional, funny and sad and juxtaposes the trials and tribulations of growing up as a young girl in a manner that creates a rich tapestry of varying colors of adolescent life.
The play is not organized around a singular conventional theme. In fact, the points of tension are dispersed among many situations and issues and randomly emerge in the fast and fragmented girl talk. There is anxiety around being in love, getting recruited to a top college with athletic scholarship, being home schooled and moved around with a parent’s job, going for unsupervised parties with boys and more. Added to all the choices that young girls wade through, there’s the shame, guilt and secrecy around sex and sexuality.
What emerges is a rich tapestry of adolescent angst, amidst glaring fundamental truths, the many choices that will have long term consequences and many responsibilities that they delicately seek to balance and navigate through, relying on each other, where only they can understand the depth of emotions. Should destiny require them to deal with loss and grief, what adult can fully understand or speak honestly about the emotional anguish that young girls standing on the dawn of adult life experience? But as the play unfolds, every adult is likely reminded of his or her mental turmoil of adolescence and of their young girls they raised, mentored or taught. There is a certain steady building of empathetic investment into the characters that we experience. By the end of the play, we want each of these girls to go to Harvard or Stanford or heck a community college, indeed any vocation of choice; be on a winning team or not play on one if they so choose; find a partner of choice or be happily single; indeed we want them to fulfill their dreams and grow into kind and happy women. DeLappe’s faultless dialogues on a diverse range of topics, makes these girls so real, we love them like our own.
Big kudos to the talented cast, Leila Rosa, Carol Amalia ALban, Taylor Sanders, Alex Bokovikova, Alexandra Velasquez, Ariel Aronica, Annika Nori, Erin Southard, Beca Gilbert, and Janine Saunders Evans. Credits go to MacKenzie Blair and Sara Session for excellent staging. Director Kimberly Mohne Hill with assistance by Elena Maddy has done a fabulous job of giving on stage life to Sarah De Lappe’s The Wolves. This is an absolutely not-to-miss-play of this theater season and will be running The City Lights Theater in San Jose, CA until October 20, 2019. For tickets, go to www.cltc.org .
As an immigrant from India, it was a special treat to see “The Lake Effect”, centered around an Indian immigrant family, by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, at www.theatreworks.org . Randall K. Lum has done a fabulous job with staging, where the softly blowing snow outside the window not only gives an idea of the frigid temperature outside, but serves as a prelude to relationships gone frigid with years of grief and animosity.
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, “The Lake Effect” captures confused notions around immigrant attitudes towards race and struggles between two generations growing up very differently, but without overly dwelling on these issues. On the contrary, the primary focus of the play is on human issues broadly applicable; complex sibling relationship between Vijay (Adam Poss) and Priya (Nilanjana Bose) and their mixed and unresolved feelings towards their deceased father and mother.
Vijay and Priya meet after a gap of several years, on a snowy, cold wintery day, after their father, a small restaurant owner in New York, passes away. I did not find it challenging connecting with their characters. Under their seemingly shallow characters, there is a deep, lingering pain from unresolved issues, that makes them very real. The play does not dwell on the grief and the pain enough for the audience to build empathy with them. The focus instead shifts to Bernard (Jason Bowan), an African-American bookie, who had developed a strong friendship with their father, during the children’s long absence from the scene. Bernard is a simple man. Having lost his memory in a freak accident, Bernard has little baggage, literally and figuratively.
Bernard talks to his dead mother, shares his pain and his blessings, carries no animosity towards anyone, and forgives easily. The beauty of Bernard’s character is that it quenches the audience thirst for deeper understanding of why other characters feel the way they do, how they will find resolution of their unresolved feelings of grief, pain and rivalry. Bernard’s ease in coming to terms with what life dishes out, makes it feel perfectly ok for any distance to be bridged with a simple hug, even with ambiguities hanging in the air. After all, grief and ambiguities are part of life and complex to unravel, but forgiveness and resolution can be very simple and happen when someone takes an initiative.
“The Lake Effect” is a beautiful play and will be on at www.theatreworks.org till March, 29.