Kenneth Lonergan's coming-of-age play, "This Is Our Youth," will be translated to the stage of Studio 104 at the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art by UNC's LAB! Theatre from Sept. 28 to 30 at 7:30 p.m. "This Is Our Youth" is LAB!'s first show for the 2019-2020 season.
LAB! is a student-run performing arts organization dedicated to providing free theatre admission to the general public, while also empowering artistic visionaries like "This Is Our Youth" director Zachary Eanes to take creative risks.
Eanes, a junior and veteran of LAB!, said his love and appreciation for the play led him to the directorial spotlight.
"It's a play about these three coming-of-age characters," Eanes said. "They're all just out of high school and in our age range, two of them are 19, one's 21. It's this idea of the transitional period from being in school to being in the real world."
Eanes said the struggles of the post-teen and pre-adult characters strengthen the timeless nature of the production.
"It's set in 1982, but the way they go about things and their intentions kind of transcend time," Eanes said. "Even now in 2019 they still have similar ways of learning about the world."
Michael Sparks, a junior and actor playing the part of Dennis in the production, said the play delves into the concepts of finding one's identity, becoming independent and moving on from one's mistakes.
"It's like the kids, and young adults in the world are feeling abandoned by the older generations, that have moved on and kind of forgotten about them," Sparks said. "They're trying to figure out where to go without really any net."
While the characters possess unique personalities and distinct interpersonal relationships, Sparks said the characters struggle to find their purposes in life which mirrors the reality students face at UNC.
"When someone asks, what are you gonna do with your life, the other person has no idea other than to say, I don't know," said Michael Chilcoat, a first-year and actor playing the part of Warren.
“It’s a scary thing and to see that portrayed on stage, especially for the first-years who don't have a great idea of what we want to do and don't have experience navigating the emotional aspect of it yet," Chilcoat said.
Anish Pinnamaraju, a junior and production manager, said the most appealing aspect of the play is its situational relatability, which binds college students to the performance.
"The conflicts and situations these characters get into are definitely heightened," Pinnamaraju said. "The stakes are higher than something we would see ordinarily in real life. But it's because of those heightened stakes that we can connect to it even more. We can find the truth in those extremes and apply it to our lives."
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