In one multiverse, Fairfield University was shut down long before the Spring 2018 semester. In another, the 2018 Independent Play Project was unable to get funding. In a third, Director Kaylee Moran ’18 looked at the script for Nick Payne’s “Constellations” and decided it was far too complex and selected a different play. Luckily, none of these events happened in our own universe and Payne’s “Constellations” was presented four times in the Pepsico theater from Jan. 19 through Jan. 21 as part of the Fairfield University Independant Play Project.
At times, “Constellations” is very difficult to understand. Based on the scientific theory of the multiverse, where numerous universes exist at the same time and the universe each person lives in is based on the different choices they make throughout their lives, the drama follows a physicist named Marianne (Jesse Lizotte ’18) and Beekeeper named Roland (Liam Cahill ’18) through their various meetings and their lives following that moment. In some of the possible universes, the two live long happy lives as friends or lovers. In others, Marianne is diagnosed with a fatal disease, but survives. In others, she dies. In still others, the two never get past “hello.”
The scenes of the play were also very broken up, making it impossible for the play to have an intermission without risking audience confusion. Despite this, with a short 75-minute run time and a thought-provoking plot, no member of the audience seemed eager to race out. The plot felt broken up because the events occurring in each universe featured were spread out over the course of the play, so a viewer would see the end of one conversation in the first 15 minutes, but not know what caused that conversation or really understand what it was about until the conclusion. Due to this, the student consensus was that the performance was confusing, but all-in-all enjoyable and impressive, especially, as Alex Gennouri ’20 put it, “toward the end [when] you see how it all comes together. Seeing the end and understanding what happened made me really appreciate the time it would take to map the plots out and understand the play enough to produce and direct the performance — the students who ran the performance did a lot of work.”
Each year, advanced theater majors are given the opportunity to apply for the Jamie A. Hulley Arts Foundation grant and, if they receive the grant, they produce a completely student run performance. This means every director, producer, actor, stage manager and crew member are Fairfield University undergraduate students who took time out of their winter break to work on and develop the play. Returning to Fairfield to see the performance, proud theater alumna Tori Schuchmann ’16 raved about the Independent Project, “it was one of the highlights of my Fairfield theater experience. [The Independent Project] gave me the wonderful opportunity to work closely with my peers and I actually worked with the director and two actors of ‘Constellations’ during my own independent project. I loved [Constellations]. I thought it was wonderful and a super creative interpretation of a complicated piece. Congratulations to everyone involved!”
Proceeds for “Constellations” went toward the Good Grief Charity in Princeton and Morristown, New Jersey, which is a non-profit organization that helps families dealing with loss.