Renny Acheson, Staff Reporter

From February 20th-23rd, Whitman students performed British playwright Somalia Seaton’s Red for three evening shows and one matinee performance. The performances took place in the Friemann Theatre in Harper Joy Theater.


The project served as the senior thesis for director Donovan Olsen ‘19. With a cast of ten, the show centered around the grieving process of fifteen-year old Dee, (Eva Sullivan ‘21) as she copes with the disappearance of her best friend Jay, (Allison O’Leary ‘22). Dee grapples with the uncertainty, guilt, and confusion that accompanies her grief. Additionally, Dee must navigate the shifting dynamics of her friend group as they come to terms with Jay’s loss. The show features a chorus of five that represents both the inner workings of Dee’s mind and a compassionate support system to guide her through her grief.


Because the show took place in the Friemann Theatre, a smaller, intimate thrust stage, actors often performed directly in front of or within the audiences. With only little space for props and set, the show’s focus fell on the lighting, costumes, sound, and furthermore, the profound interpersonal elements. Sullivan says:


“This show is pretty minimal on set, props, all that, it’s just about the connection and emotion.”


In addition to channeling the pain and anger of grief, the cast faced the additional challenge of emulating the experience of young girls. Emma Foley ‘22 who plays Gee says:


“I think at the end of the day, it’s a show about friendship, and it’s also a show about grief and loss and acceptance and all of those things, but what I took from it was the care and love that these girls have for each other, and the strength of their relationships.”


Beyond just the performance, the process of putting on the play brought its own moments of growth for the cast.


“Our rehearsal process was very collaborative and very rooted in joy and fun and love, both for each other and the show,” Olsen says. “Something that made this process so special was the amount of understanding between people within the cast and the meeting of different experiences and being able to still find connection in that.”


The show serves as a true testament to the healing power of artistic performance, community, and solidarity. Red urges the audience member to consider their own instances of loss and to show gratitude towards those who make up their support systems. Sylvia Adome ‘22, who plays Bee, says:


“It’s teaching us that you can reach out to your friends, and when you lose someone, you can reach out to the people around you and let them help you.”


Red poignantly tells the story of frustration, memory, and tragedy in a manner that will surely be memorable to Whitman and the rest of the community.