Hello theatre friends, and welcome to yet another episode of Anna Tries to Take Decent Pictures and Write Funny Words on the Internet! I'm your host, Anna, and today I'll be talking about Cabaret Theatre's third mainstage, You Got Older.
Directed by Shayna Carney, this show goes through the life and times of Mae, whose life and times are actually kind of a hot mess. And it gets even worse when her dad gets sick and she has to move back home after being dumped and fired by the same guy. Talk about a bad day, wow. You Got Older walks us through her life, as she falls back into the youthful routine of her adolescence, her fantasies about a burly Canadian cowboy, and dealing with the rest of her siblings as they await her father's treatment.
Not gonna lie, this is a weird show. I like to consider myself to be a weird person, but this show really threw me for a loop, which is the first time this has happened in like...ever. But that's a good thing! Congrats, guys. You beat me. I found myself squirming, and cringing, and laughing, and dropping my jaw, and on the verge of tears multiple times throughout the whole show - and that's freaking awesome. That's theatre.
The cast has an incredible dynamic. Comprised of 7 fantastic actors and actresses, You Got Older presents an extremely relatable story - even if you aren't a person who fantasizes about Canadian cowboys. Krystina Matos (Junior, Majors in Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies, Minors in Sexuality and Statistics) leads the show as Mae, and told me a little about how the cast works with each other. "The cast dynamic is so funny to me. There is never a moment in the show where the whole cast is on stage, and there were very few rehearsals where we all were there before we started running the whole show. Yet, we still have this closeness and this constant need to be talking to each other and checking on each other. It's so easy to have that when there are so few people involved, except Andrew can't seem to remember our names for some reason..."
From watching the show twice, I couldn't even tell that they didn't rehearse all that much as a full cast. The way they work off of each other is so natural you can't detect it. Celine Dirkes (Junior, Theatre and English) went into how she uses the cast to craft her character. "To connect with my character I connect with other characters! I imagine the circumstances and place the other characters in the position of my siblings or father and then focus on reacting truthfully to what they give me in the moment. "
At the same time that they were falling into place with their cast members, some of them found themselves in their own characters. Krystina said, "The most challenging part about my role is doing it justice. Mae is such a full, well-rounded, real character, and this play surrounds and centers on her. Because the play is so intimate, it's hard to remember sometimes that I'm on stage because you're enveloped by the person across from you. Mae and I are similar in so many ways. We're both very bold women with no filter on our conversations. There were so many times during the rehearsal process when I'd laugh at myself saying a line because it's exactly something I would say - ridiculously out of nowhere yet thought-provoking, thinking-out-loud. But mostly ridiculous."
Mario Gambino (Senior, Communication) plays Dad, and finds that he can see himself and his grandfather in his role. "The general jokeyness of dad is something that I think he shares with me. He's never too serious. Even in this dark time he's able to be lighthearted, but he has his limits and you kind of see him break down at the end. In terms of differences, I think Dad is probably a lot more patient than me. I mean it takes him almost until the end of the play to even lose his cool a little bit. I would have been a lot less patient with Mae giving me the cold shoulder so often. The connection I share with him is more external than internal. I based him a lot off my grandfather who's just a very kind hearted man who went through similar medical issues a few years ago and it was just inspiring how he handled it. So, I kind of think of it as trying to do him proud. You know, having the honor to basically live as him for a night is really special and that makes the connection I have with my character all the more important and meaningful."
The show is funny, this show is dark, this show is uncomfortable, this show makes you hungry for food and other things (lol). I left the dress rehearsal with a bunch of different ideas as to what they wanted me to focus on, but I asked the cast their opinions.
Katie Siegel (Journalism and Media Studies) plays Jenny and talks about what it means to be family. "I think there are numerous messages that can be taken from the show depending on the individual and their own experiences, so I’ll just say the main one that speaks to me. The part of the show that I’m involved in is very family-centered, and as corny and basic as it sounds, I think one of the simpler messages of the show is the importance of family. While in this show the family is related by blood, I think the definition of family can be expanded to include the people who are there for you when you need them the most."
Mario doesn't think there is one: "I think there is no grand message. I think this show is vey impressionistic and the message really depends on what an audience member sees. There's definitely a lot here and I personally see it as a piece heavily involved with empathy and maturity. But, I think it heavily depends on what an audience brings in to it and I really credit the writing and directing to be able to do that so delicately and without making it feel lightweight."
Director Shayna Carney didn't originally have this version of the show in mind before auditions happened. The most rewarding part of this process was getting to see these particular actors bring this show to life. We went into auditions with a completely different view of how this show was going to go, but everything changed when* we got our actors. They bring such a new and creative life to it and it has been amazing watching that unfold.
A big part of this production is that fact that it's real. It's relatable. People watching it will definitely be able to connect with the characters during this show, maybe even a handful of times throughout. "I proposed this show because I love capturing raw moments on stage and making the audience feel like they are a fly-on-the-wall to a family that probably resembles them," says Shayna.
Assistant Director Oren Merhav (Sophomore, Biomedical Engineer) expressed a similar sentiment. "My favoite part of this show is the absolute rawness. There is no part of the characters' lives that is off limits, and everything done on stage is as real as it can get in a performance setting."
So there you have it, folks. You Got Older is the La La Land of Rutgers Theatre right now - you HAVE to see it so you can find out if you like it or not. That's a terrible analogy, but I just wanted to throw in on a completely new social media platform that I was really not a fan of that movie. Anyway, here's ** the link to tickets. Don't miss out!
"People should come see You Got Older because it is the perfect intersection of the banal and unconventional. There's a familiarity about the story that you feel comfortable in, yet there's always this underlining discomfort, whether it be visually uncomfortable, physical, intimate, or just plain awkwardness. There are so many levels to Mae's life that become clear through the characters around her, and every single moment, no matter how simple it may seem on the surface, is an important glimpse into who she is." - Krystina Matos, Mae
* [the fire nation attacked] [don't tell me you didn't think of this because then you'd be a liar]