The Origins of Runyonland in “Guys & Dolls”

By Dramaturg Michael Levine

Damon Runyon

Damon Runyon

Guys and Dolls is one of the most produced musicals in American history. It gave the world songs like “Luck Be A Lady” and “A Bushel and a Peck” as well as etching the iconic image of the 1950’s gangster. We love and recognize these characters: Miss Adelaide is the original Broadway showgirl, Sarah the pure ingénue, Sky Masterson the suave gambler, and Nathan Detroit our favorite comic gangster. Where did these characters come from? Today most people are more familiar with the musical Guys And Dolls than with the Damon Runyon stories which inspired the production.

Frank Loesser

Frank Loesser

Producers Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin found inspiration in Damon Runyon’s stories, seeing glorious potential in putting quintessential New York stories onto the Broadway stage. They signed Frank Loesser to write a score, after producing his musical Where’s Charley? in 1948. After Guys and Dolls, this same team would create How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Unlike most musicals since the advent of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Loesser wrote his songs first, and the script came later. Original bookwriter Joe Swerling was replaced by Abe Burrows, who finished the show using Loesser’s songs. In this case, the music of Guys and Dolls was written to embody Runyon’s essence, and the plotlines were built around that sound.

Runyon's Original Collection

Runyon’s Original Collection

Runyon became famous in the 1930’s for his short stories about the nightlife and dark corners of Broadway. Populated by larger than life characters like “The Sky” Masterson and Nathan Detroit, his stories were all based on boxers, gangsters, and gamblers, the real people he knew in Manhattan. Runyon used the slang he heard and turned it into his own vernacular, creating a style specifically alluring to Broadway producers. Runyon wrote in what critics have called the “eternal present,” creating an immediacy of action that pulls the reader along for the ride as his stories twist and turn. For example, take the opening lines of the short story “Blood Pressure”. “It is maybe eleven-thirty of a Wednesday night, and I am standing at the corner of Forty-eighth Street and Seventh Avenue, thinking: about my blood pressure, which is a proposition I never before think much about.” Only once in his stories is there a recorded use of any past tense–everything happens right here and right now.

Damon Runyon was born in 1880 in Manhattan, Kansas, a brilliant foreshadowing of his future home in New York. His family spent most of his childhood in Pueblo, Colorado, and having dropped out of high school at age 15, Damon Runyon started writing for the newspaper The Pueblo Chieftain. After briefly serving in the Spanish-American War, he moved to New York in 1910. There, Runyon became famous as a reporter and sportswriter long before his short stories, which were based on the colorful crowd he ran with in the New York City underground. At the New York American he developed his style of including human-interest details about his subjects- baseball players, fighters, and horses usually. He also commented on the spectators and the event themselves, a new development at the time.

Generations of Adelaide and Nathan

Generations of Adelaide and Nathan

In 1932, Runyon first published his collection Guys and Dolls. Characters including Nicely-Nicely Jones (Johnson in the musical) and Nathan Detroit recur throughout, but the musical was based mostly on “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” following the romance between Sarah and Sky Masterson, as well as “Blood Pressure” which focused on the high-rolling and high-anxiety craps games around which the musical turns. This vocabulary was partially real, and partially invented by Runyon, but Loesser used every inch of the lexicon. The Manhattan vernacular known as “Runyonese” proliferates the lyrics, woven into the fabric of the characters words. The gamblers’ fast-paced dealing is transformed into the “Fugue for Tinhorns,” and nightclub strippers tease their audience with “Take Back Your Mink”, a classic example of Runyon’s high class/low class dichotomy. Although these characters run with the bottom of society, they speak in big words as if to assert a dignity they don’t receive in the seedy clubs and diners they frequent. With Frank Loesser’s music and lyrics, Guys and Dolls transforms the rowdy New York of Runyon’s imagination into the classic musical we know today.

We Are Pussy Riot: Context for This New Play

NewFest FB

We Are Pussy Riot or (Everything Is P.R.), this year’s NewFest New Works Festival’s Workshop Production, opens on March 31 in the Greene Theater. We Are Pussy Riot is, in fact, so new that the script has been continuously edited and updated by playwright Barbara Hammond while the students have been in rehearsal. With insight and commentary from Ms. Hammond and direction from Ken Prestininzi, this performance of We Are Pussy Riot demonstrates the play in its most recent form, and the progress that has been achieved through this workshop.

We Are Pussy Riot tells the story of the five young women who walked into the Church of Christ the Savior in the center of Moscow in February, 2012, and offered up a punk prayer to the Mother of God—“Virgin Mary, Chase Putin Away!” The young activists, who call themselves Pussy Riot, played and shouted for exactly 48 seconds before being dragged out of the church by security guards and sent home. That night they uploaded a video of their performance to YouTube, and within hours became enemies of both Church and State. The girls were arrested, tried, and sent to labor camps for hooliganism and inciting religious hatred. But unlike dissidents from Soviet times, the Western media machine took hold of the story and turned Pussy Riot into the greatest piece of performance art in Russian history.

For some great context and details chronicling Putin and Pussy Riot, see the following link for a fantastic timeline created by our dramaturg, Emily Wingertzahn: http://newmedia.emerson.edu/users/emily_wingertzahn/WAPRTimeline/ 

We Are Pussy Riot or (Everything Is P.R.) runs March 31 – April 3. Be sure to reserve your tickets at www.aestages.org – this is a show you won’t want to miss!

KEEP SPEAKING LOUDLY: An Interview with “Lizzie Stranton” Playwright Lydia Diamond

In 2008, you set the play to be in the “future” of 2016. How do you think Lizzie’s world compares with the world today?

I can’t get over how far away 2016 seemed when I was writing the play. And of course, much like with your production, we talked for a long time and worked really hard to figure out how and when we wanted to set it. I think it resonates almost more now, because very frightening things are happening in our world. In 2008 when I wrote it, things were merely as awful as they had been for four years. But we weren’t in this crazy era of rebound conservatism, but it’s just frightening. And we hadn’t watched Obama have to go through a presidency in which people were so actively committed to making it difficult for him. We have a candidate [now, in 2016] who is the wife of a former president, which I think in some ways looks like the direction that Lizzie is going in our play. It’s interesting how much it’s resonating now! If anything, if I had it to do again, it would be more stark. I think that between the moments of hilarity, there would be more social criticism that could be and would be even that much more pointed. But I love that my play set in the future is now a historical one now! [laughs] It’s sort of meta, isn’t it? The future that was written has passed, and now it’s a historical play, because it’s the play that was written in the past about the future. I think that’s absolutely fascinating.

What inspired this new version of the play?

I want to proceed by saying that I had hoped for more time to work with your dramaturgy students and possibly writers and do sort of a major overhaul of the script – not that there was anything wrong with it, but because I saw so much potential for growth, and so much happening in the political landscape that resonates. It didn’t get to happen because of my schedule. [But] I was getting the real-time incredibly insightful and incisive questions and suggestions from you dramaturgs…I have liked having these young minds really picking apart the play. And with the other character [Azima Halibi], and this is I think an interesting thing to look at – when I wrote the play for Boston University, there was a sense of wanting to write a play that African American actors, or actors of color period, who hadn’t necessarily had the advantage of having had culturally specific things to do, to have an opportunity to be onstage. What I think I find startling all over the country – and this isn’t just a critique of Boston University, but in general – I find it dismaying that these programs have so few faculty members of color and students of color. It’s a problem. So it’s exciting to me to be able to write a play that gives opportunities to these voices. And it was notable that a Middle Eastern contingent was absent from the last play, and there were reasons. So, it was exciting to be able to add that voice.

Given the Black Lives Matter protests and active engagement in intersectional issues at Emerson College lately, this couldn’t have been more timely.

I didn’t know…that was happening on your campus. But I’m aware that it’s happening all over, because it is just time, that it has to be happening. But I find it dismaying because…I graduated college in ’91 and so…[that’s] two decades and some many years, [and] we were having the same marches, having the same issues, critiquing vehemently the same things. I find that troubling…[I] have people come up to me and say, “I wouldn’t have been in a play at my college were it not for The Bluest Eye.” Or “I was able to audition for NYU and I got in because of monologues from Stick Fly.” And that’s all I ever wanted, in my artistic world, was to be able to add voices to the stage that weren’t getting there and to be able to give actors the opportunity to be able to play complicated, funny, flawed, smart, hyper-literate characters.

What was the experience of writing specifically for college-aged performers and audiences?

I had done that before, because I had written The Bluest Eye for Steppenwolf’s Theater for Young Adults, Toni Morrison’s play, and that gets done around the country. And I had written a play called Harriet Jacobs which also gets some play in the regional theaters…

I’ve done theater that was for audiences between the ages of 16 and 20, and I know that for that audience, the work has to be even more on point. Young people aren’t ever fooled and have a better sense of – new paradigms for how they see the world so I feel that it always makes me be more on point, because I know that I’m speaking to an audience that has a perspective – a socially relevant perspective…[On writing] for young actors, I would say, because most actors in conservatory programs are so talented…in terms of the skill set, it’s at a high level, because they’re kids, often, who have been passionate about theater for years and years and years. The first production [of Lizzie Stranton] was more hands on with the students, because I was there in the room creating the play in real time. But I think that college students are just so inspiring, so un- jaded…It’s just pleasurable to write for young people.

I had an opportunity to do a reading of the play – an open reading – at the Huntington [Theater Company]. And again, it was fun to have the play with equity, older actors, and they were great and it was funny, and it was exciting to see that it holds up in the professional arena. But the energy and the enthusiasm in the college production was palpable. And often, also, I would say, that most college students haven’t had the wonderful experience of wielding dildos and singing a song. [laughs] And I liked being the warped mind that could give them that experience! I’m sure their parents loved coming to see that…

 

Many of your plays have a strong background in realism, like Stick Fly and Smart People. What was it like working in such a different genre?

Well, not so much. What’s interesting is that the plays that are most available to you, that are realistic and have a forward-moving…chronology are the ones that our country is most comfortable with and so they’re the ones that get done most often. I have a play called Voyeurs de Venus which was commissioned by the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, and first mounted at a company in Chicago called Chicago Dramatists and was done in the same season, around the same time as my other play Stick Fly, the one that went to Broadway…And it [Voyeurs de Venus] won a Joseph Jefferson Award for best new play and Stick Fly got second for best new play…And I think that’s so telling. I don’t tell that to be arrogant, I think it’s telling because it [Voyeurs de Venus] was appealing to a mass audience in a way that I think many theaters don’t realize non-traditional plays can be. So in a way, it loops back to the question that you asked me about writing for young people and writing for a college environment – it gives you more freedom. I always am only going to write the plays that come out of me because artistically that’s what I want to express…So it [Lizzie] didn’t introduce to me a new form, it allowed me the freedom of knowing that an audience would see a play that isn’t necessarily naturalistic.

…I guess the short version of the answer to your question is that it’s not a form I’m unfamiliar with it’s just one that finds its way to stages less often.
Can you speak a little bit about intersectionality and its role in the play?

With regards to the characters and their identities? That’s an interesting question too, because I did want to play with identity but I think that it is relatively arbitrary in terms of which characters had which personality traits. And I find that that’s tricky and interesting when you’re doing work about race and class and gender, which is all that I ever do, really, whether I mean to or not. Because all of a sudden personality choices that you make for characters have a resonance and are vulnerable to…looking like you’re painting a whole people with broad strokes. And particularly because we don’t get to see that many people of that many ethnic origins onstage at the same time, we’re trained to think that when we see race…it’s representative of a whole people. And so even for this play, as much fun as it is…I struggled with that a little bit. And I had to release it. I just had to release it. And also it makes me notice that a lot of the characters were made for the women I knew would be playing them, and/or could be creative challenges to actresses who hadn’t had a chance in their careers at Boston University to play various kinds of roles.

What would you say to any of the “anti-feminists” out there?

Anti-feminists?! Oh, my goodness! What would I say? It has to be rated G or PG…? Male anti-feminists I would say are sexist, and we know that that hasn’t gone away. I think of the younger generation again, and even my mom’s generation versus my generation, there are fewer and fewer of those, and that’s encouraging, but certainly there’s still enough institutional gender disparity….

For all people who are anti-feminist: shame on you! And, you know, read a book! And for women who are anti-feminist, I think that they just didn’t get the right definition. And they need to be educated. Some of the feminist ideals my mother’s generation worked so hard for, have been diluted. So that would be my not so funny answer to what should be a really funny question. It’s true, you know? Go and open a Gloria Steinem anything and understand what feminism is – and then talk about how you’re not a feminist.

What conversations do you hope that Lizzie Stranton will inspire in audiences?

What I would say, and what I feel very strongly about [for all plays that I write] is that I want audiences to first be really entertained. I want laughs, even when it’s not a funny play or a play about funny things, but particularly when it’s a comedy. And I want them to feel as though it was an evening well-spent. Then, I hope, that people start talking on the way home, and they have disagreements about what they saw…and how they felt about the play. And then, if it’s very successful, they’re talking about it at breakfast…I feel so strongly about that. It’s got to be fun. It’s got to be entertainment. And, if it’s political, it can’t not have conversations that follow it. And, if it’s politically viable, somebody’s going to get offended, and it will often be the person that you least expect would. And that means I’ve done my job.

I’m sometimes surprised, because now that I’ve been being a playwright for a while, I think I’m not automatically given cool points. Like there’s nothing really cool about having a…play on Broadway. So I don’t know if people watch it through a lens of understanding that I’m on the right side. So I find that very interesting too, in terms of how people feel about the irreverence of certain things.

What advice would you give aspiring young female voices in the theatre?

Keep speaking loudly! Have your voice. Find the voices of people who historically have also been working hard to have a voice and have voices heard. The American theater struggles with celebrating diverse voices. I think young female writers need to be writing their stories, saying them, and having them heard, and not waiting for institutions to produce them – I’m talking specifically right now to playwrights. We have to write our reality, and know that it’s worthy, and it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s ever. And it can seem to us like it’s mundane, but there is something that is just as appealing and inspiring and provocative about being the black woman who writes a play about maybe having grown up with privilege and feeling critiqued by black peers. Or the white man who maybe writes a play about being the only guy in a black neighborhood, or writes a play about living in the suburbs and actually having a pretty balanced life and having been exposed to whatever they were and what their complicated emotional landscape looked like in childhood. I think we have a tendency to think that the stories that we tell that are worth staging are the ones that are full of adversity and tragedy, or that other people have already deemed exotic or “other.” And I don’t know anyone whose life story or life experiences or the stories of others that they choose to tell are not interesting and don’t resonate with large audiences.

I guess I’m saying, keep writing, and put your stuff out there into the universe and don’t expect someone to just do it: do it yourself. And write and write and write and write so that your voice becomes strong and clear. And I would say in terms of women in the arts having a voice period, that it’s true for directors and it’s true for actors: be who you are, get your education, know how to do what you do so well that you don’t have to waste time wondering when sometimes you get treated “like a woman” by a male patriarchy. Or when sometimes you get treated like a person of color by an institution riddled with institutional racism. Know what you’re doing is valid and keep doing it.

We live in a world that will, in insidious ways, try to silence you. And it’s not like there are people sitting in cigar smoke filled rooms and suits, men, white men, colluding about how to keep everyone down – it’s so much more insidious than that. And how you let it not chip away at your self-esteem, you’re able to identify it and name it, and know that if you’re in it you’re not crazy. If you know the dynamic is there, you don’t waste emotional energy trying to figure out if you’re right about that dynamic. It will drive you crazy. Statistically we live in a country that is not equitable. And I feel as though the powers that be spend a great deal of energy saying, “look over here, whatever you feel, whatever your life experience is, it’s not true, it’s not real.” And that makes for a very specific, very American kind of crazy. And I think to women of all colors, and in a very specific way because I am a woman of color, to women of color, you don’t have time to waste trying to figure out what the dynamic is. You have only to do your work best.

 

Any final thoughts about this production of Lizzie Stranton?

Special thanks to Benny Sato Ambush, who has been a huge supporter of this play and in many ways taught me to value it more than I knew to. So to Benny, and to the Emerson community, and to the theater department, and to the great actors and actresses who are doing the play, and my director Lee, just a huge thank you! It’s a gift that it’s being done and I am grateful…And thank you for dramaturging the hell out of my show. I appreciate it.
Conducted and edited by Emily White

Why “Lizzie Stranton” Shows the Best of Emerson

Hello Readers!

See below for a take on Lizzie Stranton‘s applicability to our lives, written by Assistant Dramaturg Travis Amiel. Lizzie Stranton runs from February 4-7, so be sure to  purchase tickets online.

LIZZIE-art copy

Why Lizzie Stranton Shows the Best of Emerson

In Lydia Diamond’s L​izzie Stranton​ we are faced with a parallel 2016. In this universe, who runs the world? Men! …but it’s girls (well women really) who take agency. Their goal: end the war that men have started and refuse to end. In this reimagining of L​ysistrata (​the Greek comedy you might have read for class) abstinence is the point of attack, but the women on stage don’t see the world with simple, clear solutions. Like most Emersonians, the women of Lizzie Stranton​ are critical in how they’re going to tackle the most problematic element of modern society: the patriarchy. And they refuse to be stereotyped and exoticized, demanding inclusivity (requiring it in fact) in their conquest.

Full disclosure: I am a cisgender, white, gay man and therefore not quite the face of diversity. The character most similar to me in the play is also one of the most problematic. But this play represents the Inclusive Excellence that Emerson College strives for. I want to be in a school where “diverse” and “accepting” aren’t words thrown around to describe us (like “very important” or “great college” )​, but are linked to real efforts. L​izzie Stranton i​s one of those efforts. If you haven’t read the “Summary Report of Initiatives to Increase Cultural Competency Among Faculty and Students“,​ take a look. The title character says late in the play, “we, individuals, are still burdened by the misguided assumptions and beliefs put forth in an earlier time.” This sounds like the voice of many young people, demanding that we set new standards for our society, in which we obliterate systems of oppression.

Watching a run-through of the play, so many lines sparked my fingers to snap in support, as my lips and teeth instinctively whispered “yaaaas”. This was because I felt like I was watching these warriors against oppression, speak about the issues I too feel are being overlooked. When the character Azima brought up the need to also address our world’s environmental devastation, I thought of t​he article in the Beacon, reporting on Emerson’s recent trash audit.​ Our environmental impact as an institution has an impact worldwide.​Some see climate change as the next genocide,​unless we do something.

There’s a moment when one character asks the ensemble onstage to check their privilege, and it’s great. The audience stops seeing these characters as who they present themselves as, but in a greater context of who they actually are.

It’s not just the content that makes this production important, L​izzie Stranton i​s a n​ew​ play, and Emerson Stage’s production is the second full mounting of the play since it was commissioned by Boston University in 2008. Everyone involved with the play gets experience handling script revisions from a playwright who this week is opening a​ new play, Smart People,​off-Broadway.​

Lee Mikeska Gardner, Artistic Director of The Nora Theatre Company, based in Cambridge, directs the play, giving students the experience of working with a local professional director.

And lastly, this is a female-driven play (a rarity), and its addition to the theatrical cannon means that colleges, community theatres, maybe even high schools, have a new option when working with female-heavy departments.​ Already Emerson Stage’s production has had an impact on the development of Lizzie Stranton,​ a new character has appeared and new issues have been raised.

Check out L​izzie Stranton​ February 4th – 7th and see your body, your issues, and your school on stage. Tickets are availible at AEstages.org or by visiting the Culter Majestic or Paramount Box Offices.

Our private Gilead: Thoughts on the regional popularity of “The Spitfire Grill”

 

 

 

 

By Sydney Torres
Assistant Dramaturg, The Spitfire GrillSPITFIRE-LRart

 

 

The Spitfire Grill is a hidden gem of show. Audiences will discover that it is intimate and filled with soul. Composer James Valcq and lyricist Fred Alley said in many interviews that they hoped their show would find a home in regional theatres. If you take a peek at the production history of the show, it has indeed proven to be popular with regional, educational, and community theatres. Since its Off-Broadway premiere in 2001 at Playwrights Horizons, the musical has had over 500 different productions worldwide. What is it about this show that is so appealing to these theatres? I believe the clues lay in the musical’s setting.

 

The show is set in the fictional town of Gilead, Wisconsin, a change from the 1996 movie that Spitfire is based on, which is set in Gilead, Maine. Valcq and Alley decided to change the setting for their adaptation because they are both Wisconsin natives. They intentionally set the musical closer to their hometown and their roots. The name “Gilead” is actually a biblical reference to a rare medicine, and is the subject of the popular hymn, “There is a Balm in Gilead”:

“There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.”

At the start of Spitfire we meet Percy, a young woman fresh out of prison. She travels to Gilead after seeing a picture of the town’s famous creek in a travel guide. She hopes it will be a place that will heal her “sin-sick soul” and offer her a new beginning. As she starts her new job at the Spitfire Grill, a local restaurant in the heart of town, she learns that the town of Gilead is just as wounded as she is. It is a town haunted by its past. The people of the town are set in their ways, and no longer see the beauty that surrounds them. Once she helps them rediscover the spirit inside of Gilead, they are on the path to becoming “whole” again.

As they sit in the Spitfire Grill one night, Percy and her new Shelby reflect on the town of Gilead. Shelby, who has lived in Gilead her whole life, tells her friend that there is nothing special about the town. When Percy describes Gilead from her own perspective, she is able to remind Shelby that Gilead is special:

“Have you ever dreamed of a town so small, they roll the sidewalk up?
Where the waitress spills the gossip as she fills your coffee cup?
You can own a piece of heaven, where the hummingbirds still hum,
and the colors of paradise come.”

 The description of Gilead that Percy gives vividly describes the feeling that the town evokes. Although it is not a geographically specific description, because Gilead is the kind of simple and archetypal town that transforms into whatever you want it to be. It can become your escape, your fresh start, your new home, even your “heaven” or “paradise”. I think this is the reason Spitfire is so popular among regional theatres: the town of Gilead could be any small town in the USA. When theatres work on this show, Gilead belongs to them. They can craft it to reflect their homes and communities, which makes the show more impactful to its audience.

Spitfire is about rediscovering life in yourself and in the places around you. Over the course of the show, we see one woman help a whole community come alive again and rediscover the beauty of their hometown, while finding a fresh start and new life for herself. It is the perfect show to go up during Emerson’s Family Weekend. When watching the show, I believe audiences will feel an ache of nostalgia for their own hometowns— their own personal Gilead. Emersonians will appreciate the tight-knit community represented in Spitfire, and the family dynamic that is eventually formed. Like Gilead, Emerson is not an especially large community, but we are definitely strong, collaborative, and unified.

Theresa Rebeck’s “O Beautiful”: Why here? Why now?

By Elizabeth Gilchrist, production dramaturg

BEAUTIFUL-LRart

In 2011, playwright Theresa Rebeck (creator of TV drama Smash; plays include Seminar and Omnium Gatherum) was commissioned by the theater department at University of Delaware to create a story bringing American history head-to-head with contemporary political and social issues. Inspired by her strict Catholic upbringing and a constant stream of devastating news stories, Rebeck wrote O Beautiful, in which she holds a mirror up to the audience demanding them to look at the current state of our country. She asks, “Who are we becoming? Who are we allowing ourselves to become? Where is our compassion?” and leaves the answers up to us. To present these sweeping questions, Rebeck constructed a mammoth play, both on an ideological level and on production scale.

O Beautiful covers a wide array of hot-button issues, ranging from abortion to the influence of religion in our school systems. The play also brings a handful of historical figures back to life. To communicate and share such an epic and comprehensive story, Rebeck needed an ensemble to match.

In an interview for UDaily during the development of O Beautiful Rebeck stated, “Part of the problem with producing contemporary political theater in America today is that many theaters don’t have flexibility or resources, be it hiring a lot of actors or staging a work that might be tough for some audience and board members. I never expected a university to get involved like this, but thinking about it, a university is exactly the right place to put together a play like O Beautiful.”

The original production at University of Delaware included a cast of 40, bringing the school’s professional company and undergraduate students together. Emerson Stage’s upcoming production features an ensemble of 37 students, ranging from sophomores to grad students in the Performing Arts department; as well as members of the school’s a cappella community, as represented by the vocal group Achoired Taste. O Beautiful has provided Emerson Stage the chance to bring a larger ensemble, and students from different communities, together to tell this story.

In addition to providing a large and committed ensemble of actors, Emerson Stage is an ideal place to produce Rebeck’s play due to the large, varied audience it attracts. The production hopes to reach students of all majors and concentrations, as well as those from the larger Boston community. The timing of the production, at the beginning of an election cycle, lends itself to the material in a powerful way as well.

Rather than using theater as a means of escape, O Beautiful demands that audiences focus on the reality of our country’s political and social climate. The scale of the production also urges audiences to witness the condition of their own communities. Emerson is full of students with different interests, experiences and ideas, all existing and creating within the greater Boston area. How do our backgrounds inform our choices, and how do these choices define the state of our community? With so many aspects of our society being presented by a wide array of characters, all opinions are brought out on to the table for consideration. At Emerson, O Beautiful gives voice to the the nation’s youngest population and allows them to contemplate their role in society.