SCE explores human connectedness through poetry

By MacKenzie Brady

Student Life Editor

On Friday, Nov. 15 and Saturday, Nov. 16, senior Hannah Sauer’s directing thesis, “I and You” was performed in Tawes Theatre, bringing the fall season of theatre senior capstones to an end. 

Honorary producers for the show included alumi Sarah Curnoles, ’05, John Beck, ’05, Carol Landis, ’06, Liam Daley, ’07, Cindy Orndorf Adams, ’06, and Greg Adams, ’04. 

“Directing ‘I and You’ has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my college career,” Sauer said. “Seeing all of the design elements come together at Load-In was a really rewarding moment.”

“The whole team worked so hard for so long, and we are finally seeing all of that hard work embodied onstage,” she said. 

Written by Lauren Gunderson, “I and You” is set in 2014 and focuses on an afternoon when Anthony, played by freshman Ely Shilling, unexpectedly arrives in classmate Caroline’s, played by junior Dayla Williams, bedroom to work on a school project about the pronouns “I” and “you” in Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” from his book “Leaves of Grass.”

Having been out of school for a while due to illness — the audience later learns that Caroline has had a problem with her liver since she was a child that has recently gotten worse — Caroline had no knowledge of the assignment, or of Anthony’s plan to come to her house to work on it. 

When Anthony shows up in Caroline’s bedroom to do the assignment, he brings with him a plate of cookies her mother gave him, a beat-up copy of “Leaves of Grass,” and a trifold board with the name “Walt Whitman” written across the top and down the side because he ran out of space. 

“My body hates me, my house hates me, and now here you are with this homework,” Caroline said about her need for a liver transplant, the intermittent chirp of her fire alarm’s dying battery, and Anthony’s arrival.

Though they get off to a rocky start — Caroline establishing, “Rules number one through four hundred: Don’t be nice to me” — with the characters bickering about their project and the other’s personality, the two end up letting their guards down and begin to get to know each other, sharing their favorite songs, Caroline’s love of photography and penguins, Anthony’s seemingly extensive knowledge of poetry and love for jazz, encountering awkward moments of teenage boy-girl interactions, and even talking about death. 

While Caroline has plans for a future where she is no longer sick, she makes digs about dying throughout the play. In response, Anthony recalls the basketball game he played in earlier that day where a student from their school died on the court during the game. 

According to the description of “I and You” on the Theatre Department’s page on the Washington College website, the play “is an ode to youth, life, love, and the strange beauty of human connectedness.”

Based on audience reaction during the show, the play is full of moments of sincerity and humor. People audibly laughed as Caroline and Anthony navigated their budding friendship. 

At the end of the play, the audience understands that it was Anthony who died at the basketball game, and that he was giving Caroline the liver she needed to save her life. 

This ending took many audience members by surprise as the theatre filled with gasps when the twist was revealed. 

“This is not your room, this is not your house, there is nothing here by you and I,” Anthony says at the end of the play as the lights fade out to purple and the two characters are left hugging on stage before Caroline wakes up post-surgery. 

Sauer was most excited for audience members to see the ending. “We all worked so hard to try not to anticipate the ending during the performance,” she said. 

“It’s also just a visually stunning part,” she said, referring to the lights fading out, leaving a purple silhouette of the characters. 

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