This Friday evening at 8 p.m. Jenna Grubaugh, a theater major, will present her senior recital to the Goshen College community in hopes that it will spark political and ethical conversation among her audience members. The play, called Two Rooms, will be held in the Umble Center, and admission is free.
A Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies minor, Grubaugh was committed from the beginning to finding a script that addressed an issue that “mattered.” “I love the kind of theater that is challenging and makes the audience think in a new way,” says Grubaugh.
And so after much searching, Grubaugh hit upon the play Two Rooms, written by Lee Blessing. As its title suggests, the drama takes place in two separate rooms: one in Beirut, where a man has been taken by terrorist kidnappers, and one at the man’s office in the United States, where his wife (played by Grubaugh) mourns his absence and begs the American government to get her husband back.
Though the play depicts terrorism, much of its drama centers around the negotiations between Grubaugh’s character and a government official. The American government refuses on ethical grounds to pay ransoms, and Grubaugh’s character becomes increasingly frustrated with this policy, as her husband has been gone for three years.
Grubaugh herself struggles with the question of whether it is ethical to sacrifice one person for the many. “It has the potential to be a controversial play,” she says.
The aesthetics of Grubaugh’s production are minimalist, with lots of spare spaces and cool lighting. In congruence with her commitment to social and environmental issues, Grubaugh has chosen to recycle former props, costumes, cloth and lumber rather than buying all new products.
There are only four actors in Grubaugh’s production, which is directed by Grace Eidmann, a Goshen College alum.
Grubaugh will graduate at the end of this semester, but theater promises to play a prominent role in her future. She will act in a play at New World Arts in downtown Goshen before heading off to the Philippines in February to work at an internship that will incorporate both her theater and peace-building interests.
Grubaugh explains that she loves theater for its ability to reach anyone and everyone. “It is a medium that is easily understood and connected to,” she says. “You don’t even have to be able to read to understand it.”