Director Connects to Play on Personal Level


Courtesy of Taylor Greenthal

College sophomore Jourdan Lewanda pokes college sophomore Jenna Bellassai, during a scene in I’M ALIVE YOU BASTARDS AND I ALWAYS WILL BE. The play opened Thursday night to a nearly full house.

Daniel Cramer

Few directors have the privilege of personally knowing the playwright of the play they are directing, let alone sharing a close friendship with them. I’M ALIVE YOU BASTARDS AND I ALWAYS WILL BE is a unique opportunity for playgoers to reap the benefits of this special relationship, one in which the author’s original intent is likely to materialize on the stage. College senior Taylor Greenthal, who is directing the play, said, “It was an incredible opportunity to work with a playwright whom I not only love and respect as an artist but also as a friend.”

Roxie Perkins, the playwright, has provided Greenthal artistic autonomy as director. However, Perkins’ anticipated presence as audience member adds an element of pressure to the performance. “I hope she feels like I’ve done her script justice. That pressure has also been an excellent motivator,” said Greenthal.

A collaborative spirit permeates not just the director-playwright relationship, but also the show in general. Though I’M ALIVE does not have an extensive cast, every show involves cooperation between people with diverse skill sets. One actor, College senior Sophie Zucker, said, “Plays in themselves are [collaborative] by nature, because everyone is playing and experimenting together. … Taylor, especially, is great at making it feel like a collaborative process.” Though Zucker has done shows with Greenthal in the past, none of them have been quite like this. “It’s more abstract, more up to one’s interpretation,” she said. “The only [reason] it’s like shows I’ve done before is because I’ve worked with Taylor. … I’m just glad to be ending my Oberlin theater career with a character that feels like me.”

Zucker plays Jak, one of the two young girls the narrative follows. The other is Lang, played by College sophomore Jourdan Lewanda. The girls live a slow-paced life in the desert, but everything changes for them when they find a dead dog and their world unravels.

I’M ALIVE showcases themes of relation, mysticism and reality. The show hopes to give audience members a meaningful, individual experience. “I’M ALIVE is unique in that it has fantastical qualities while also being grounded in realities of human nature that everyone recognizes, yet often can’t quite put a finger on,” said College first-year and production assistant Zoë Kushlefsky.

“I chose this play because the script is beautiful, challenging and terrifying,” said Greenthal. “I am not only incredibly compelled by the concept, story and characters, but I also feel very connected to it on a personal level.” I’M ALIVE YOU BASTARDS AND I ALWAYS WILL BE opened on Thursday and will continue to run March 6 and7at8p.m.andMarch7and8at2 p.m. in the Little Theater.