Written by Finegan Kruckmeyer, The Violent Outburst That Drew Me to You was performed at the Studio Theatre on Oct. 18 and 19. The story follows Connor, an angry and hormonal 16 year old who feels as if the world is out to get him. The first act follows Connor’s irrational anger and frustration during a whirlwind of desk tossing and punch throwing anger towards his best friend, parents, aunt and uncle. Finally, his parents reach their breaking point and decide to drop Connor off in the middle of the woods to stay in an old shack his grandfather built for an entire week. The second act follows Connor’s time in the woods where he meets a young woman named Lotte, who is also acting out, but for more justified reasons. Her parents are splitting up, her boyfriend just broke up with her and she has to switch schools. The two decide to run away further into the forest and get lost together. Their shared frustration with the world helps them bond but also shows Connor that his reasons for acting out are ridiculous and unjustified compared to Lotte’s. The play has a very open ending, with the two sleeping next to each other in the woods before Lotte getting up and exiting the stage.
Riley Nelson, senior, had the difficult task of playing Connor, a “shitlord” as the cast called him, and the protagonist of the play. It was a difficult job to make the audience root for Connor when he is such an irrationally frustrated character who did some horrible things. It could have been very difficult for Nelson to sympathize with him at times in order to portray him fairly, but Nelson worked at understanding Connor’s mannerisms and actions by remembering that every teenager has had difficult times and recalling those feelings to portray Connor most authentically.
“You really have to understand the intricacies of the character, and because I’ve done it so many times, I’ve been able to find those moments … I hear that thing that my mom said, that would make me really angry, even though it’s clearly irrational to make me angry, but I hear the thing that Connor heard, and I focus on that and just believing that. And when I know what I’m about to say, just saying it with belief and passion. That’s how I try to act.”
— Riley Nelson, actor
Veronica Langley, junior, saw the performance twice, once as an audience member and once as an usher. She has also seen many of the actors perform before.
“I think that the minimalist props allowed for the audience to fill in the blanks, which I like. It told a whole lot about the setting without actually telling us anything, which I liked. Same thing with the sound design. The transitions between spaces you can catch as an audience member because of the different lighting cues and the different sound cues. And I think that overall it was really easy to follow, which is sometimes difficult to do on a bare stage.”
— Veronica Langley, audience member
Marion Frank, junior, was both the director and lighting designer. As a director, Frank worked with her designers to give the production the right look, sound and feel. She likes to think of herself as a facilitator rather than director because she loves her ability to say yes to designers ideas. One such idea as having a minimalist stage’ with acting blocks being situated so they become a car or a couch instead of having to be the literal object, or having the entire show set in the forest because it is the most pivotal part of the show. As director, she works on unifying her and her design team’s ideas and keeping the train on the tracks with her central vision. As lighting designer, she focused on how light would affect the mood of the play. For example, using opposing warm and cool lights from opposite ends of the stage to get modeling on actor’s faces in order to create a cooler or more homey moment during the production. She also added a texture wash of a leaf effect to emphasize the action being in a forest.
“The other main lighting effect I had was the blue backlight to indicate nighttime, because I had a series of compositions for the end of the play that I really wanted to get light, and that relied on having to get that intense blue night time feel. Because the lightsource comes from behind them, their faces are kind of shadowed, and I wanted it to be secretive, that open ended ending, like I don’t want people to know exactly what’s going to happen next.”
— Marion Frank, director & lighting designer