The lights go down. Isaiah Chagas, who plays Howie, an openly gay teenager, is sitting in bed having a late-night conversation with Mr. Healy, a teacher who is supposedly having inappropriate relations with young boys.
The original production of “Speech and Debate” featured five characters -- Howie, Diwata, Solomon, a reporter and a teacher.
Argus Eyes’ production of “Speech and Debate” was executed incredibly, including references to real world issues today. The ongoing phenomenon about men, especially in the Republican party, who openly speak out against gays -- yet have relations with men themselves -- was an ongoing theme in the play. So, about Mike Pence?
Solomon, played by sophomore Mark Rotundo, is also a gay teenager, but unlike Howie, he is more reserved and as Howie says in the play, “always tries to act normal.”
Diwata, played by the amazing Mikaela Rosenthal, embodied every aspect of a wannabe star, down to the super-talkative high pitched voice and the overly-confident attitude. Her role was extremely vital to the play, considering that she brought the three “misfits” together in her Speech and Debate club.
In this club, the three are planning a performance of “The Crucible” but their version is much different than the original. Together, they plan on exposing the ongoing rumors surrounding Mr. Healy.
The production does not only bring up the issue of politics, but also touches on an issue that is evident at Saint Peter’s University, along with many private universities and schools across the nation -- student journalism.
Rotundo’s character, Solomon, is a reporter for his school paper and wants to write articles on topics that are arguably controversial. Abortion and the scandal with the mayor, which is similar to the rumors surrounding Mr. Healy, are two topics he is passionate about.
Senior Alexandra Antonucci, who plays the teacher, is preventing Solomon from writing about these issues, which can be seen as censorship. Censorship is a common issue today that happens frequently amongst many student newspapers.
According to the New York Times, recently there have been several incidents where students have been censored by school administration but there is not much to be done.
“Since the 1988 Hazelwood Sch. Dist. v. Kuhlmeier decision, administrators have been able to censor work in school publications that they consider poorly written or ‘inconsistent with the shared values of a civilized social order’,” writes Natalie Proulx, New York Times journalist.
Argus Eyes’ production helps bring up this conversation, and with the impeccable execution of it, students will be able to recognize this as an issue and contribute to solving it.
The production ends on an abrupt note after the Speech and Debate club’s performance of “The Crucible.” The aftermath of their performance and the impact it had on Mr. Healy and the school would have been nice to see.
But the astonishing relevance and execution of the play made for a great production -- and included a few laughs too.