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Summer Finley (left), Aidan Tracy and company perform a segment from 365 Days/365 Plays at Ohio University on Wednesday. 365 Days/365 Plays is a compilation of plays written by Suzan-Lori Parks.

'365 Days/365 Plays' to examine race, immigration and other issues

Suzan-Lori Parks wrote 365 Days/365 Plays over the period of a year when she wrote a play every single day to commit herself to the artistic process. 

Ohio University’s Theater Division is presenting the second production of the 2018–2019 season, directed by visiting assistant professorDaniel C. Dennis and assistant professor Rebecca VerNooy.

Grayson R. Basina, assistant scenic designer for the play, interpreted the play as a growing up in the America tale. Basina said only 40 plays are being presented out of 365 written by Parks. The play depicts the life Parks had as a young African-American woman living in New York.

An advocate for live theatre, Basina wants people to attend the play because it is a very abstract piece and people watching will experience emotions of happiness, sadness, hatred and love.

“It’s about the American dream,” Basina, a graduate student studying production design and technology, said. “It’s a group of people with different cultures and different ideals trying to live their story. In a sense, it’s relatable to everybody.”

Dennis, co-director of the play, thinks it is important to see the play because it’s about people’s lives right now and narrates the struggles on how to live with people who are different.

“People should come because it is unlike other events that they may have seen before,” Dennis, a visiting assistant professor of voice and movement, said. “This is a very fast-moving play. It will go from scene to scene very quickly, and because we have put these different plays together in an order that we like, it feels like a different kind of theater piece.”

Dennis finds meaning in the juxtaposition of how the different scenes go from one to the next, as it’s not always an obvious transition.  

“We don’t completely spell it out,” he said. “We allow the audience to do their own thinking in the play and to make their own interpretation of what’s happening.”

One of the struggles Dennis and the team faced during the production of the play was being challenged with their own biases. Dennis and VerNooy, both white, talked extensively to their diverse cast to discuss issues regarding race. 

Bethany Greenman, a dramaturg for the play, said the play’s real topics connect the audience immediately, as it talks about a lot of things that would otherwise go unspoken. Some of those topics are the racial realities people tend to ignore, anguish that comes with the creative process and many others.

“I think it’s a really beautiful piece,” Greenman, a junior studying playwriting, said. “I think it is something that is important for people to see, but it also won’t bring you down too much. There is definitely hope in it, among all the darkness.”


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