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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Students dive into a raw display of humanity in ‘Lobby Hero’

Benjamin Michael Hall
Director of the staged reading of Kenneth Lonergan’s “Lobby Hero,” David Alford, prepares with the cast on Sept. 14.

The BW theatre department explores the depths of morality and human nature through a staged reading of Kenneth Lonergan’s “Lobby Hero” Sept. 15 and 16 in the Kleist Center for Art & Drama. 

“It’s just a very human piece of art,” said Justin Lee-Price, the sophomore Music Theatre major portraying the character of William. “It’s very much an understanding of the human machine. I think that’s what theatre is—that’s why we’re doing stuff like this.” 

The play centers around four characters and the interactions they have while navigating a murder investigation within the lobby of a New York apartment complex. Despite originally being set in the early 2000s, the material covers universal topics of social justice and moral dilemmas which are still relevant today. 

“It does take place a little bit in the past,” said Kyle Arzaga, a junior BFA acting major portraying Bill. “But I think it’s definitely still relevant in a lot of different cases.” 

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“Lobby Hero” teeters on the line of tragedy and comedy, using natural yet abrupt humor to cut the tension of these heavily emotional situations. 

Junior music theatre major Trevor Gill-Snow, who is portraying Jeff, said that the emotional buildup is a slow roll. 

“The playwright manages to start in a very light place, and then introduces all of the darker themes in pieces until that’s all you can see,” Gill-Snow said. 

Gill-Snow said that through this journey, the material emphasizes the significance of human experience and emotion, especially when taking one’s morality into account while making high-stakes decisions.  

“A lot of [the play] is about the justice system and how flawed it is, and how you have to navigate that as a human being—not just as a cog in a system,” Gill-Snow said. “And at the end of it, the audience kind of has to wonder what they would do in Jeff’s shoes.” 

To compensate for a lack of set, the reading will be held in the lobby of Kleist, allowing for the audience to become fully immersed in the play’s universe. The intimacy of the performance will also largely depend on the abilities of the actors to bring their characters to life, to which, according to Arzaga, the material lends itself. 

“The whole story is told through the dialogue and through [the characters’] interactions, and I think that it’s something that’s so unique to this piece,” Arzaga said. “These characters—they’re not outlandish caricatures, and they’re not cartoony. They feel like people you can actually encounter.” 

Another aspect of the performance that will help bring the piece to life is the component of stage directions, which will be read aloud by junior BFA acting and directing major Maya Norman.  

“I view the stage directions as essentially the narration, so it’s a very important part I play,” Norman said. “And even though the stage directions aren’t their own character, I am taking the author’s voice, and I do have opinions.” 

Junior BFA acting major Greta Bedell said that the biggest thing she wants the audience to be able to take away from the show is the imperfect nature of humankind. 

“The story as a whole… does a great job of showcasing our flaws as human beings and emphasizing that we are all trying to do what we think is best,” Bedell said.  

The cast urges audience members to check the material’s trigger warnings before viewing and to come into the performance with an open mind. 

“It’s very freeing, it’s very real, and I think it’s something that everyone should witness,” Lee-Price said. 

Performances will be held in the Kleist lobby Sept. 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, while free, have already sold out due to limited space. 

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