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Essay on Theatre Experience

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This term I had the privilege to take a theatre class, one of the things I am really passionate about. In this paper I am going to talk about 2 plays that were very dear to me, that moved me, and that touched me – Boycott Esther and Be More Chill.

Philadelphia-based playwright Emily Acker clearly understands the premise of her new play, “Boycott Esther,” now in a smooth Azuka Theatre world premiere, because she lived it. The Weinstein Co. hired Acker in 2016 to write a TV pilot. When the project was in its final stages, the news broke: Harvey Weinstein, head of the film and entertainment company, was a serial abuser and women were coming forward to call him out.

The #MeToo movement had begun. And Acker’s good fortune — to be hired for the project — was dashed. She was caught in the fallout, with many talents whose Weinstein Co. projects were killed or put on hold. As the press material for “Boycott Ester” puts it: “Acker was left to balance her personal disappointment versus feelings of solidarity with the movement and empathy toward the women speaking out.”

Starting off, with Boycott Esther, the play was a tribute to the #MeToo movement. The play took place in the Azuka theatre

That’s a pretty good description of what happens also in “Boycott Esther,” about a 23-year-old named Esther Lehman (the excellent Alison Ormsby) whose Twitter account attracts about a million followers who admire her feminist, funny, and highly personal blog. She’s been hired by Barry Bloom — the play’s Weinstein-like head of a film and TV empire — to create entertainment content from those musings.

And then it happens: Bloom (Stephen Rishard) is outed as a scumbag, in headlines that look very much like those atop the Weinstein stories. Esther is repulsed by him, but she doesn’t quit writing for the company — the company quits on her after she meets with Bloom privately at his request. She empathizes with his plight, if not with him, and writes a blog post called “Forgive and Forget? A letter to my former boss, Barry Bloom.”

And suddenly Esther is caught in a social-media maelstrom; not even her easygoing former mentor at the Bloom company (Alexandra Espinoza) wants anything to do with her. The same internet dynamic that made Esther a web star could now send her back to waiting tables to get by as a writer.

No doubt about it, the currency of Acker’s play, directed astutely by Maura Krause, is boosted by the playwright’s backstory: She knows what she’s writing about. The trouble is, as this compelling play with brisk dialogue and entertaining characters moves into high gear, we don’t.

In the first half, Acker draws us into Esther’s highly digitized world, and once we’re there, we root for her all the way: She’s a brash up-and-comer, and we can see why her blogs are taking her somewhere good, even if we haven’t read them. That’s because Acker gives us enough to be able to read Esther herself.

But all we know of the blog post that begins to take her life south is the title, which we can clearly see on a projection (as can you, in the photo above). Acker gives us only context — people are angry about the post, yet Esther insists it’s far from a defense of her disgraced boss. What could this bright, fully wired woman write that causes such a disconnect between her and her loyal fans? We never get so much as a quote.

If Acker wants to show that the swift momentum of #MeToo leaves no room for any other side of the story, perhaps she does — but how has she been able to? Without something more solid to go on, we’re left with only the knowledge that the blog post is controversial, but not why.

Yet there’s something very sensible, and sensitive, about the way Acker moves her to play forward. She shows us how Esther herself was violated as a young girl, not physically but by words, and to horrible effect. The incident is framed as a play Esther writes to move out of the controversy, so we don’t know what’s fiction and what’s actually the truth. But in either case, we know the facts, and we’re able to be moved.

The title, Boycott Esther, is revealing and crucial: Esther’s Twitter “handle” is #WishIWasVashti, a reference to the biblical heroines (no, no heroes) of the Purim story. Esther is subtle and seemingly passive and saves her people, while Vashti is the defiant rebel, a proto-feminist. The on-screen debate between Esther and her alter ego is brief, and in its brevity, Acker’s shrewd playwriting is revealed: Nothing is belabored, overexplained, or heavy-handed. This fine script gets the fine production it deserves under Maura Krause’s masterful direction.

At first, I was flummoxed by the play’s ending. But seemingly innocuous actions can have the most insidious and devastating consequences. The first unwanted male gaze causes an irrevocable shift in a woman—the realization that there are those who believe a woman’s body does not solely belong to her.

Maybe forgiveness for these men is possible, or even a path to redemption. Boycott Esther does not take a hard stance on this or provide an easy solution. But I stand with the women who have been harmed and want their stories to remain front and center. The men can remain in the shadows.

The play, Boycott Esther, was set in a Black-box or studio theatre. These are flexible performance spaces that when stripped to their basics are a single room painted black, the floor of the stage at the same level as the first audience row. Usually, these spaces allow for the temporary setup of seating in a number of different configurations to enable a wide variety of productions to be presented.

In regard to the production’s costume, we see that Esther has worn the same outfit throughout the play except when going out for a meeting. Her lousy pajamas and a plain t-shirt showed how flexible and free she is at home and that she doesn’t care if anyone sees her like that, this also portrayed the role of her character which was all about a fun, narcissistic, and snappy little “brat.” This portrayed how busy her life really was that she didn’t even have time to change her clothes or clean up her room. The rest of the character’s costumes were all designed according to their role in the play, like how Mary dresses up professionally to represent the integrity that her job sustains. Even when Mr. Bloom is accused of drugging and sexually abusing women, he dresses up with a jacket, shades, and a hat to hide his real identity in public places so that no one can see him, this also fits the character perfectly at the correct time in the play as it showed us the hardships he was facing at that point in time.

I loved the way the set was set up. The projectors interacted with the play really well, they moved in during tense situations when Esther was being boycotted. The projectors also portrayed that what she was doing on her electronic devices really mattered because otherwise, the audience couldn’t know what was happening. The lights were all either blue, red, or purple color that representing the technology-savvy world we live in. When Esther would jump from her room to a coffee table nearby, the lights changed from being blue, red, and purple to pale white which showed the audience of her going from one scene to another. The pale white light also represented how she shifted from being around a computer for many days to being in the bright sunlight at a café with the accused producer. The lights actually set the whole mood around the audience of what the character is going through within each and every scene.

The sound set the tone for the audience. The sound would rise to be really loud of people saying “#UnfollowVasthi” which told the audience what’s going in Esther’s head and how it made everyone uncomfortable too when the sound would go really low when she would be working at a Starbucks that showed how her life turned into a lonely phenomenon. The sound production was very well executed overall by playing the sound at the right volume, at the right place, and at the right time to tell the audience how to react during scenes.

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The actors were perfectly set for this play. Esther, who is portrayed as a young, bright, snappy woman, is cast as a woman in her mid-twenties. This was done to portray the #MeToo movement at that time. Most of the accused actors in the movement were older than their counterparts and portraying Mr. Bloom as an elderly man truly showed the integrity of the play, causing the audience to believe that all this happened in real life. Even Mary’s role was perfectly suited for the play as she is an agent who has been in the entertainment industry for years now and therefore she would be elderly because if it was a young woman, the play would not have made sense in the aspect of how she viewed all the past events in her life in the theatre. Therefore, having an elderly woman playing the agent’s role was perfectly set out.

The play had a continuous flow of events that kept the audience hooked throughout. The play was executed in a professional manner revealing all the important takeaway messages. One thing I would change about the play is the scene where Esther goes backstage to change in her working outfit. Instead, if I was the director, I would let Esther be sleeping on the bed and instead use the projector to show something like “4 months later” and have her change the outfit on stage as she did in the previous scenes to keep that flow consistent. Overall, the play is something everyone can learn from, learning the value of respect.

A tale of nerdy teen angst and technology by songwriter Joe Iconis and book writer Joe Tracz, this geek-love, sci-fi, high school musical bombed its series of shows at the Mandell theatre.

It starts off with a high school boy, Jeremy, who has a dad wandering in his underwear since his wife left him, and on top of that, there’s also all the “I want to be one of the popular people” problems that every high schooler alludes with it. Jeremy’s transition involves a dangerous mega-computer-in-a-pill called a Squip, personified by a megalomaniacal, Keanu Reeves-like presence, which is what drives “Be More Chill,” comically and even thrillingly at times. There is a breathless quality to everything that squeaky (but belting) baritone Roland does in his attempt to break free and be cool.

And those thrills aren’t just for kids. Traditional theatergoing audiences that tend to be older than the teens and twentysomethings that packed the theatre.

In many ways, the icy bounce of “Be More Chill” and the silly videogame drama of “Two-Player Game” will remind anyone who came of age in the 1980s of New Wave hits from “Rock Lobster” to “Cars.” The ‘c-c-c-come on’ refrain of the fast-paced “More Than Survive” could have come from the British Invasion of the 1960s or the Ramones’ invasion of C.B.G.B’s in the 1970s.

Then there’s the universal story behind “Be More Chill,” which involves unrequited love, the fight for the fair damsel, concerned loved ones, and a mind-controlling bad guy — although there are mentions of Mountain Dew, eBay, and premature Eminem obituaries. Plus, with its willingness to jokingly promote drugs and promiscuity, indicates that this is hardly a children’s musical. However, the main message Be more chill is trying to spread is an average high schooler’s concern about being popular in school. The music tends to bring all those problems out and tells the world that the right step to take, in this case, is to like everyone for who they are because there is no point in changing yourself for someone else or to look more popular; these are shown through the changes in Jeremy’s sense of fashion and posture.

The stage presented to us here was a Proscenium theatre. Proscenium theatres have an architectural frame, known as the proscenium arch, although not always arched in shape. Their stages are deep and sometimes raked, meaning the stage is gently sloped rising away from the audience. Sometimes the front of the stage extends past the proscenium into the auditorium. This is known as an apron or forestage. Theatres containing proscenium stages are known as proscenium arch theatres and often include an orchestra pit for live music and a fly tower for the movement of scenery and lighting.

When paying attention to the sound and lights of the show, I found out how many of the sounds were created to use perfectly in the play. The lights, however, lit up the entire theatre with exotic lighting over the stage, near the stage, and on the stage. The lights set the mood of the play, like when the pill would be introduced to a person, the whole stage would turn up with green lights and all technological motherboards would flash in the background indicating the importance of the pill. The sounds made every aspect reportable to the audience. For example, the sound when the pill would be introduced was of robots talking meaning that it controlled you just like a robot enabling the audience to realize that the pill is actually made of highly intelligent technology. The sound set the perfect tone for the show throughout its showtime.

Looking over at Drexel’s CO-OP Theatre, looking at each actor’s background, I found out that all actors come from diverse fields such as finance to mechanical engineering, and most of them had a passion for such performances that showed their zeal for theatre throughout the showtime. Therefore, having a diverse cast brought a whole another level of theatre to the table.

The production costumes were perfectly handed out throughout the event each actor dressed according to their respective roles in the scenes like during the Halloween party or when they were in school, which made perfect sense for the audience to understand what was happening on stage/what’s taking place on stage.

Overall, the play was perfectly coordinated but at times you could not hear Brook as her mike wasn’t turned on during her cue, or else technological factors might have affected it. Therefore, I would have certainly addressed all these issues beforehand and would have had a checkup with the production and sound team to avoid issues last minute or during the show.

The similarities in both the plays were the use of technology, the production, the use of lights, the use of sounds, and the cast that fit their roles perfectly. We can see that in Be More Chill, the use of lights allowed people to focus on things that were the most important stage, for example, the dense green light that would display every time they talked about the pill, showing its importance. Similarly, in Boycott Esther, the projected screens would move closer and closer with a dense blue light, indicating what the character is feeling at that point in time. The rigorous chanting of Rich burning down the house during the Halloween party on Instagram kept repeating, reminding the viewers of what had happened. Correspondingly, in Boycott Esther, the repetition of the word “#UnfollowVashti”, told the viewers that losing so many followers due to one small favor of supporting a criminal, caused an intense sense of pain to the character onstage. Both the plays used similar forms of communicating and setting the overall tone and mood for the play that hooked the audience to the play for every minute the production was on stage.

The audience overview of the play was about the aspects that revolved from the venue, that was at the Drexel Theater, to the experience of being in it and getting there. The venue was surprisingly really good, going into the theater, I was expecting a classic high school theater with uncomfortable seats and a few more lights. What I saw left me awestruck. When walking into the theater, the entrance and feeling felt and looked like entering a stadium. The lights throughout the venue were able to give the theater a more calm and cool mood. The color of these lights were cooler colors like blue and purple.

For Boycott Esther, when we walked into the theater there was modern pop music playing in the background. This music was quite unique when it came to the topics that the songs were on, but one thing that all the songs had in common is that all of the singers were females. Another thing I noticed was that all of those songs came out around or after the #MeToo movement was launched. This instantly told the audience that the play refers to one of the biggest movements that occurred in the 21st century, the #MeToo movement.

Another similarity between the plays was the main message that the play was trying to spread, the concerns of human reality for such sensitive topics that society overlooks them really easily. For Boycott Esther, the main message was about the #MeToo movement and giving people that were falsely accused, like Esther, another chance to come back into the industry. For Be More Chill, the main message was how every high schooler tries to be popular and once they are, it costs them their most favorable friends, their social lives, trapped in an endless portal of social media that portrays the reality in the most ignorant way possible. It shows that this is not what people should be looking at, that they should not be judged based on their level of popularity but based on their humanity, the main goal is to accept people for who they are.

On the contrary, one of the main differences between the two plays was the number of cast members used in the respective plays and the set design. Be more chill had a large ensemble and a lot of characters that added importance to the plays whilst Boycott Esther consisted of only 3 main characters and the parents that were only seen during facetime calls. The set design for Boycott Esther was different in the sense that the play consisted of 3 locations, a bar, a bedroom with a toilet, and a café. Esther would jump into scenes from her bed to tell the audience that she is transitioning to a different location, this was really ideal as if they changed the set multiple times to adjust to particular scenes, then there would have been a lot of havoc that would have to lead the audience to start talking amongst themselves which would lead them to a loss of concentration in the play and it would have been really hard to get their attention back.

On the contrary, Be More Chill, had characters move the props on set to adjust to particular scenes whilst the show was going on, and since it was a musical, characters would come in singing and leave with the props to be replaced with new props that actually made sense and kept the whole audience hooked to the musical.

Moreover, Boycott Esther was a traditional play set on stage, while Be More Chill was a musical performance set on stage. Despite their differences, they both managed to bring out the main message of the play and intrigue the audience till the very end. Both the plays were perfectly executed leaving a lasting mark on the audience to think about their actions which would directly relate to today’s social behavior and ethics.

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Essay on Theatre Experience. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from
“Essay on Theatre Experience.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Essay on Theatre Experience. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Sept. 2023].
Essay on Theatre Experience [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2023 Sept 29]. Available from:
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