By: Mariela Esparza
The theater department will be kicking off their 2021-22 season with in-person performances of the winner of the 2020 Goshen College Peace Play Contest: Barbara Lindsay’s Heavenly Light directed by Abigail Greaser.
The Goshen College Peace Play Contest is the only annual contest dedicated exclusively to plays concerning peace and peace-associated topics in the United States.
Typically, the winning play is performed each year, but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the production of Heavenly Light was postponed for one year. This fall is the first time the script will premiere on the stage.
Adapted from a different body of her work, Lindsay’s dystopian play follows a former freedom fighter, Lucinda Celeste. Though the script was written pre-pandemic, Greaser feels that it remains pertinent during these times.
“It’s a story that was written before a lot of the current events we are living through,” she said, “and yet it is eerily relevant to what we are dealing with culturally … everything that had been her [Lucinda Celeste’s] normal state of being is sort of flipped on its head.”
In regards to the themes of the work, Greaser said, “It gets into some of the emotional side of resistance and justice work, where it feels like it’s never enough and it’s never actually done.”
Though Greaser has directed GC productions before, this is the first time she has joined an existing project instead of selecting one herself. Another difference this time around is who Greaser gets to cooperate with.
“It’s the first time as a director where I’ve worked alongside the playwright specifically … while the other plays that I’ve directed have also been contemporary, this one is the first time I’ve had that role of really being the first director to take a project on,” Greaser said.
By far, COVID-19 is the most notable external obstacle for this production.
“This is a really quick process,” Greaser said. “It’s three weeks, so we really cannot afford for anyone involved to be quarantined.”
With guidance from the Pandemic Task Force and considering vaccination rates, Greaser feels that theater can safely happen in-person.
The performances will be on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m., Oct. 2 at 4 p.m., and Oct. 3 at 2 p.m.
Besides COVID-19, Greaser, who graduated in 2021 with majors in music and theater, spoke about the more personal challenges she faces when it comes to directing.
“I am constantly having ideas working and spending time with the script, which sometimes means I end up having lots of opinions,” she said. “However, it’s important for me as a director that I leave room for my actors to discover things themselves … finding that balance of leading and helping, and listening can be tricky; it’s also, at times, really rewarding.”
In addition to the peace play, the department will present a fall mainstage play: Melissa James Gibson’s Brooklyn Bridge. The mainstage will be directed by Anna Kurtz Kuk, associate professor of theater. Performances will take place Nov. 13 and 20, at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 14 and 21 at 2:30 p.m.