On Wednesday evening, first year staff writer Sarah Kinney traversed over to Schapiro Theatre (after going to the other Schapiro building and getting wicked lost) to see Columbia’s Graduate School of the Arts’ production of Summertime. She laughed, she cried… just like she did later that evening while watching the debate. But that’s another article. Back to the play.
Upon walking into the Schapiro Theatre black box on Wednesday night, I was confronted by a charming and intimate set. A pile of mattresses in one corner. A couch in another. A picnic table in the middle. But, most notable of all: rose petals, covering every inch of the stage floor. However, maybe stage isn’t quite the right word. The actors waltzed around in the middle of a high-ceilinged room, surrounded by clumps of chairs, some of which ascended into rows, some of which were courtside with the action itself. Shortly after I found my seat, the second row in a small group of six chairs, the lights dimmed. Showtime.
This production of Summertime, written by Charles L. Mee, was directed by Robin A. Erikson. Erikson has spent the past three years studying the art of directing at the Theatre Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and Summertime is Erikson’s thesis production. He succeeded in taking an eclectic and talented group of actors — some from the School of Arts, others from the Actors’ Equity Association, a performing arts union based in New York City — and turning a quirky comedy into a larger than life creation.
Love at first sight, decades long marriage, and blurred lines of sexuality all intertwine to form one of love’s most complicated webs. The 13 characters of Summertime find themselves inescapably caught up in this entanglement. One introductory character led to one couple, led to two, and so on and so forth until every single character seemed to have slept with at least one other person in the room. The relationships were ridiculous and relatable; up until, of course, the token Hot Guy ripped off his tuxedo and danced around the entire set parkour-style. (Well, that is ridiculous, but definitely not relatable. (But, if that is relatable for you, please send us the entire story to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear about it.))
Summertime was continuously surprising and interactive. Actors tore down the fourth wall in a personal way, joking with the band and saying “excuse me” to audience members. The seating was close enough that I could make direct eye contact with various actors over and over again. I felt engaged. I felt part of the story. I felt utterly riveted.
On a weeknight not unlike any other, I was lucky enough to sit through opening night of the best kind of show: lowkey, intimate, thought-provoking, and hilarious. I highly encourage you to attend Summertime this weekend if you crave an escape from homecoming madness. I promise you’ll be glad that you did.
Summertime runs through October 22nd, with performances at 7 p.m. each night and a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, October 22. Tickets are free with a valid CUID or any other student id, $5 for seniors, and $15 for general admission.
Summertime via Columbia Graduate School of the Arts