From Wednesday, Nov. 10 to Sunday, Nov. 14, the Meredith Theatre Department will be presenting Everybody, a play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. The play will be shown in the Studio Theatre of Jones Hall. This contemporary play is directed by Professor and Program Coordinator of Theatre Catherine Rodgers. Performances are free to attend; however, anyone wishing to attend is required to register in advance online using a Google Form that can be found on the “current season” section of the theatre page on Meredith’s website.
Everybody is a contemporary play that is somewhat based on Everyman, a medieval morality play where characters represent moral qualities. In Everybody, the allegorical characters include Friendship, Mind, Five Senses, Understanding and more. This play takes a unique approach to the original story: nine of the 14 actors are required to learn all the roles in the play. This is because every night at the start of the show, the actors will be drawing a character’s name out of a hat, which will determine who they play that night and means that each performance of Everybody will provide new and different interpretations of the characters. When talking about this aspect of the performances, Professor Rodgers said that this would be “both exciting and frightening for the actors and for [her] as the director.”
Professor Rodgers said she chose this play because she admires Jacobs-Jenkins, who is a young Black man most well-known for his play Appropriate. She also said that this was a perfect play to produce because “the casting is open and inclusive,” which means that there were no casting limitations based on race, gender, age or other factors. Rodgers mentioned that the setup of the play offers a unique experience to Meredith’s young actors, offering them a challenge that she has “no doubt” these students will meet.
Professor Rodgers referenced The New Yorker when stating why she thought audiences would enjoy Everybody. She stated, “As The New Yorker said about this 2018 play, first produced off-Broadway at the Signature, ‘With Everybody, Jacob-Jenkins has written a play about love—or rather, a play that shows how impossible it is to write about love— and it fills the heart in a new and unexpected way.’”
By Jayce Perry, Staff Writer