Student director debuts play in Thayer Hall basement

Written By Sara Cronin, Co-Copy Desk Chief

Sophomore acting major Jeremy Beveridge debuted and directed his first play at Point Park this weekend with the visually captivating and dynamic “Constellations.” Originally written by British playwright Nick Payne, “Constellations” explores the complexities in a relationship between the play’s only two characters, Marianne and Roland.

Unlike other plays, “Constellations,” is written in a way that is entirely open, experimenting with theories about “multi-universes.” In fact, it was Payne’s unique way of storytelling and concept that initially drew Beveridge to the play in the first place.

“The interesting thing about the writing and what caught my attention is that the author writes it as though [Marianne and Roland] are in several different universes,” Beveridge said. “Supposedly you never see the same two people twice if you think about the different multi-universe theories that are out there. It’s just so intriguing.”

The majority of Payne’s “Constellations” is quick, witty dialogue. In the style of the play, Marianne and Roland hold conversations with one another, but, in an abrupt moment during the play, the two will “restart” the entire bit of dialogue over again in a completely different tone. This added twists to what the original conversation and tone had been about, hinting that the relationship was taking place in several different universes.

Payne’s open concept allowed Beveridge to add some of his own style to the play but also presented some of its own challenges.

“[The play] was such a blank canvas for me to be able to pick up and go, ‘here’s what I want to do with it,’ and just mold it into what I wanted it to be,” Beveridge said. “I think the most difficult thing was the process of making sure I didn’t change what was said or change the points of the play while still being able to make it my own.”

Beveridge also decided to add a concept of his own to “Constellations” to give the play an additional and unique creative touch. Beveridge conceptually implied that the events that the audience watched between Marianne and Roland already took place and that Roland is looking back on his time spent with Marianne.

In order to convey this concept, during transitions throughout the play, the audience watched a cute, candid video recorded by Roland of him laughing, exploring and enjoying himself with Marianne. They were shown in a variety of locations—anywhere from beautiful art museums and coffee shops to dorm rooms as the two continue on in a conversation about struggles, dying, and life in a voiceover. Beveridge’s concept helped audience members piece together how deep Marianne and Roland’s relationship went as well as how much Roland truly cared for her in the midst of her own inner turmoil as she dealt with the effects of an unwanted sickness.

It was the talented junior performance and practice major Vanessa Vivas who brought the humorous and intelligent character of Marianne to life, while Josh Leon had audiences both laughing and crying as he played the easygoing and caring character of Roland.

Vivas’ and Leon’s incredible performances and chemistry in “Constellations” helped make the play truly memorable for the audiences that filled the small room in the Thayer Hall basement over the weekend. Audience members audibly gasped in disbelief as Roland and Marianne delivered news of sleeping with other partners, laughed as Roland gave his bee monologue with a special ring in his pocket, and blinked with tear-filled eyes as Roland gripped Marianne’s scarf in the final concluding scenes of the play.

“I think [the play] was phenomenal,” sophomore photography major Alicia Angelo said. “I thought it was really well done and portrayed. It was also really emotional.”

At the start of the play, audience members are strangers to the lives of Marianne and Roland, but, by the end of the play, the two characters almost feel like friends after watching the two experience relatable and strenuous situations together.

“The chemistry between the two of them worked out really well,” sophomore information technology major Dylan Morgan said. “At first I was confused, but once [the play] started talking about quantum physics, I could start to understand. The end especially got really intense and emotional.”

Overall, “Constellations” challenges its audience to carefully choose how they dictate their relationships with those they love and care most about.

“I think a good lesson from the show, especially in the way that I’ve done it, is just how important the time you have is, and doing what you want to do with who you want to do it within that time that you have,” Beveridge said. “You’re given only so much of time, so what are you going to do with it?”

Beveridge would like to encourage others to continue to support himself and Pinnacle Production in viewing, “And Then There Were None” debuting March 14-16, and “The Credeaux Canvas,” debuting on April 4-9.