‘The Altruists’ explores themes of sexuality, social protest

Clara Bartlett

From Wednesday, Nov. 9, through Sunday, Nov. 13, “The Altruists,” directed by senior theatre major Sarah Wright, will be performed in the Freimann Studio Theatre of Harper Joy.

Credit: Allie Felt

The title of the play illustrates its underlying conflict: Does true altruism or unselfish concern exist in our world? Or are most people inherently selfish?

The Pioneer went behind the scenes to chat with cast members at a Thursday night rehearsal.

“[We’re] a group of young radicals living in the nineties in New York, who protest everything, are complete hypocrites and are totally self-involved,” said sophomore cast member Olivia Clingman-White.

“I guess it’s just about people who believe in changing the world. They have really strong convictions,” added fellow cast member sophomore Russell Sperberg. “The whole play is about what happens when their personal convictions conflict with their public convictions.”

However, it was not this conflict that proved to be most challenging in terms of the play’s subject matter but instead the relatability of characters to the actors and the overt display of sexuality.

“Definitely in the beginning, it was just weird because Sam and I are lovers in the show and like, having to make out with him and basically have sex on stage; that was sorta weird,” said Sperberg. “But mostly now the most difficult thing is just really considering everything and not giving something that’s just one note. And making it good.”

Cast member sophomore Sam Halgren explained further.

“For me it’s having to connect to a character who is basically the same age as me, but who’s had such a 180 degree life from what I’ve had,” said Halgren. “I mean, he’s a prostitute at 20 years old in New York, right? And I go to Whitman College. So that’s a big difference. So I had a bit of trouble trying to get into that.”

But what seemed to help bring the actors closer to their characters was the Occupy Wall Street movement as it correlated directly to their roles as activists within the play.

“As far as the Occupy movement goes, it’s a really important thing, and there are so many intelligent people protesting. But at the same time, there are people there protesting just for the idea of protesting, to be up in arms, and maybe in some ways those people are trying to be altruists, but really just don’t know what they’re doing,” said Halgren.