Friday, Feb 16, 2024

Perhaps the World Ends Here

TISCH DRAMA STAGE is set to present Perhaps the World Ends Here, a sci-fi epic that intertwines video game culture and Choctaw cosmology, all while embracing the flamboyant style of Theatre of the Ridiculous. The play was conceptualized by indigenous artist Daniel Leeman Smith, an adjunct professor at Drama who not only wrote the script but also took on the directorial reins. 

What sets this production apart is not only its exciting blend of influences, but the fact that it’s also making history within TISCH DRAMA STAGE productions. Perhaps the World Ends Here marks the first time a TD STAGE production will center on the indigenous experience, and fittingly, it is brought to life by an indigenous artist. Adding another layer of significance to the production are its two main leads, Serenity Holmes and Noah Ong Bamola–two students who are committing to the exploration of the indigenous experience by portraying characters that delve into the complexities of identity and heritage. Their performances promise to bring authenticity and depth to the narrative, offering audiences a glimpse into the intricate world that the play portrays.

In this Q&A session, Serenity and Noah explore their characters and share insights into their experiences as Drama students. 

How has your time at Tisch Drama shaped your understanding of storytelling and performance?

Serenity: I spent my primary training in the Experimental Theatre Wing, where I learned the importance of having and utilizing your own unique perspective on the world to your advantage when approaching character and storytelling. I learned not only how to manifest perspectives in your body, but through your own work. I feel confident in my physical body and much more free to follow my own impulses.

Noah: I study Lee Strasberg’s Method at the Strasberg Institute. Through fully immersing myself in theatrical training I have had the opportunity to not only learn more about myself but learn what I can bring to stories. Tisch Drama has shown me that careers in the performing arts field are not for the faint of heart – which has solidified my own stance: that I want to dedicate my life to performance art.

In portraying your role, what did you find the most challenging, and what elements of the character brought you the most satisfaction?

Serenity: I think what I found most difficult, but exciting when approaching Frankie, was her mere weight in the story and defining the delicate balance between comedy and drama within the genre of the “Theatre of the Ridiculous.” Being able to find the moments where we want the audience to leave with a greater understanding of indigenous perspectives and knowledge. I think what brought me the most joy was embracing Frankie’s awkwardness. She is not your typical hero, so accepting the irony of the situation is something that I’ve found a lot of joy in. 

Noah: I found my character’s choice of vocabulary the most challenging. My character is one of the non-indigenous people in the show, and sometimes he makes ignorant comments and assumptions. Of course, I now realize that my character is meant to represent some of the misinformation and ignorance people hold toward indigenous communities. Being a part of this show to any degree uplifts indigenous stories that have previously been ignored or stifled. My favorite part of the show was developing my relationships with each character, from friendship to enemy. 

Can you share any moments from rehearsals or interactions with the cast that have significantly contributed to the overall atmosphere and excitement of the production?

Noah: The cast has been so collaborative, and we have created an environment where anyone can speak up to share their opinion, voice discomfort, or simply ask a question. As a non-indigenous performer, I have been so lucky to have formed a better understanding of indigenous theatre and its values. Oftentimes in rehearsal the cast and crew Smudge, which is a cultural ceremony, to cleanse, connect, and center – which is always appreciated with everyone’s hectic lives and schedules! 

Serenity: The cast and crew are truly amazing, and I have had the best time working with them. Being able to incorporate indigenous practices such as smudging (outside) into our rehearsal process has been very cleansing, and a nice reset when coming in from a busy day of classes. In regards to specific interactions, Noah always makes me break. He is so effortlessly funny and I’ve had such an amazing time developing the relationship between Frankie and Karl! 

Without giving too much away, what can the audience look forward to?

Serenity: Chaos! 

Noah: Truly this show has it all. Daniel Leeman Smith, is an incredible writer and director and this piece will have you crying from both laughter and heartbreak. You can expect action, drama, suspense, and comedy. Oh, and video games. Lots of video games.

Is there anything else you want to share with the audience?

Serenity: Laugh but look inward!