I went with some friends down to the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts to see Theatre Fairfield’s performance of “Tiny, Beautiful Things” on Tuesday, Oct. 19. The plot follows an advice columnist who simply goes by “Sugar” as she reads and responds to the questions asked of her. There’s a lot I could say about the plot, as the performance gave us so many different stories within it, but that wouldn’t adequately capture what the performance made you feel.
I went in knowing nothing and was simply there to support my suite-mate and friend, Nora Jacobi ‘25 as Sugar, who we had all seen put so much time into this production. Her time paid off; might I add. If you saw any of her incredible performances, you already know how outstanding the entire cast and crew were. I had all the confidence in the world they would do a fantastic job, but I never expected to leave in tears.
The stories told range from a transgender adult telling of their relationship with their parents to a grown woman talking about the debilitating guilt of stealing as a teen. Stories from the significance of thrifted hand-me-downs to the significance of a camera case, to the significance of a Santa costume (that one was funny).
Each question asked of Sugar showed an extremely vulnerable side to humanity, and that’s in the fact that each story was asking for advice, sure, but more than anything to be understood. Even if it was in the arms of a stranger over email, there was a hurting person who wanted more than anything to feel like they weren’t alone. And in “Sugar’s” responses, she created a beautiful aura of safety, understanding and empathy that graced the whole stage and extended onto the audience – and it was done with five talented people, a simple wooden stage and a black box.
Stories were told that I would never relate to, stories were told that I painfully relate to and stories were told that I once related to. All the same, I felt like I was up on that stage. “Sugar” was delivering her advice, her love and her understanding right to me. That’s what brought me to tears, and clearly, those around me as well. Hands frequently flew up slyly to adjust eye makeup and masks as each person in the audience felt as if they were up on stage opening their soul and receiving that heartfelt advice and validation as well.
The performance of “Tiny, Beautiful Things” was clearly well done, and very emotional as you watched it. But it was impactful beyond that. As I was leaving and talking it over with my friends and suitemates who all went (and all cried), I kept wondering why we don’t always have stories like that shared.
The play wasn’t just executed well, but the choice to perform it was an excellent one. Everybody knows the classic plays and musicals, and while those stories are beloved, how many times will we hear them and see them before we’ve gotten every message we’re going to get? Everybody loves some fantasy and magic now and then as a nice little escape from the real world, but when reality sets in, then what?
This performance was a breath of fresh air because it was something real. I didn’t expect to be brought to tears, but I’m so happy I was. We live in a time where everyone, especially students, struggles to navigate their own feelings and minds; more than that, navigating how to communicate that to ourselves and others to begin to feel some semblance of understanding. It was a wonderful escape to finally hear something so raw. It had vulgar terms, sensitive subjects and deep emotions – and I recognize that’s not for everybody and that’s okay. It told of people that aren’t fantastical, supernatural, famous, rich, grand, polished, but in the end, who is? If we want to make things that make people feel, and more than that, make people feel understood, then we must show them as they really are.
Overall, the cast and crew did a phenomenal job. Not only did they choose an incredibly real and raw play that demanded an emotional performance, but they delivered. I, personally, can’t wait to see what they go on and do, and hope our campus and our Theatre Fairfield continues to tell stories that can really move its students and leave them with a deeper sense of empathy than when they walked in.