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'This Is Our Youth' Depicts Authenticity Amid Adolescence

On Thursday night, the Boston College Dramatics Society presented the opening of their spring production, This Is Our Youth, in Robsham’s Bonn Studio Theater. The play, written by Academy Award-winning writer of Manchester By the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan, depicts the angst that is characteristic of the adolescent experience. 

Student director Michael Quinn, ’19, oversaw the assembling of the three-person cast. James Stevenson, ’20, played the role of Dennis, the domineering, drug-dealing teenager. Dennis has powerful, repressed opinions about life that are revealed only during his fits of anger. Michael Mazzone, ’19, played the role of Warren, Dennis’ best friend who allows others to control him. Warren is interested in thinking about the deeper questions of life. Haley Holmes, ’19, played the role of Jessica, an opinionated, passionate character who has trouble forming relationships with others.

As it is a coming of age story, the characters in This Is Our Youth are forced to let go of the idealistic views of their youth and face life’s burdens. The characters experience frustration and difficulty as this liminal stage is crowded with confusion. As the story progresses, the naive relationships morph into relationships of authenticity and intimacy through the collective embrace of life’s anxieties.

The narrative created a realistic depiction of the lives of three privileged city kids during the Reagan Era. Polaroid pictures on the wall, Dennis’ apartment resembled an adolescent’s apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The cast carefully constructed their interpretations and subsequent portrayals of each character, thus allowing the audience to easily relate to the collective uneasiness of adolescence. 

Quinn had minimal experience with play directing in high school. When he became aware of the opportunity to direct the spring play, he was immediately onboard. Having previously been an audience member at a production of This Is Our Youth a few years back, Quinn was enthused by the idea of directing the play through his own artistic lens.

Though challenging at times, Quinn says the process of directing was enjoyable and rewarding because of the dedication of all those involved. He enjoyed working with the cast because their combined insights created unique interpretations of each of the characters.

According to Quinn, a major challenge of the play is that it is acting-heavy. It is made up of only two scenes which each last about an hour. Thus, the actors do not have much time to relax throughout the play. There are times when they are on stage uninterrupted for thirty minutes or more. Quinn was incredibly amazed by the actors’ endurance as they managed to stay in character throughout each scene’s duration.

Quinn believes that BC students can easily relate to the angst that the characters in the play feel. The show depicts the directionlessness and anxiety that teenagers feel as they enter the real world, something most college students deal with.

“My favorite parts of the play are moments of tenderness in which the characters experience some sort of profundity.” These moments are filled with authenticity. The characters are given a glimpse into the beauty that awaits them in the future.

Quinn also appreciates that the characters’ lives do not become perfect at the play’s end. Instead, the characters experience moments of beauty amidst the struggle all throughout the play. Quinn believes that this spontaneity of beauty is more representative of life.

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