The Black Box Theatre of the Doudna Fine Arts Center was packed as audiences watched the opening night performance of the play “Gidion’s Knot” Thursday.
“Gidion’s Knot” is set during a parent-teacher conference between Corryn, the mother of Gidion, who is played by junior theatre arts major Holly Allen, and his teacher Heather, played by senior theatre arts major Imani McDaniel.
The parent-teacher conference began with Corryn coming in to talk to Heather about Gidion, who was recently suspended for reasons unknown at first.
The audience learns throughout the course of the play that Gidion has committed suicide since the suspension.
Throughout the play, Corryn tries to get answers as to why Gidion killed himself while finding out different things she had not known previously about him.
“I have simple question,” Allen, as Corryn, said. “What the hell happened?”
The environment of the play is tense at the beginning, with Corryn accusing Heather of hating her son and both of the women arguing over who is responsible for Gidion’s death.
Corryn said she blamed Heather, while Heather said once Gideon left the classroom, her responsibility ended.
“Gidion’s Knot” included references toward Greek mythology, Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, and poetry while exploring the topics of bullying, child sexual abuse, teen suicide, and homophobia.
While trying to figure out what happened, Corryn and Heather learn more about each other and the circumstances and events surrounding Gidion’s suicide.
As more truths are revealed, the action becomes more intense, with Corryn and heather getting into shouting matches and even physical altercations.
“Right or wrong, he wanted to tell the truth,” Corryn said while defending her son after finding out why he was suspended.
The stage was set to look just like an elementary school classroom, with desks, an attendance sheet, and picture of different gods and figures from mythology on the walls.
When the play was over, many members of the audience could be seen talking to their friends about it, some of whom seemed shaken up by what they saw.
Stephen Kowalski, a junior English major, said the actors were both really good.
“They did a great job,” he said.
Sarah Self, a senior English major, said she read what the play was about, and while she did expect some things, she did not expect others.
“(The actors) were willing to go deep into the subject of suicide,” she said.
McDaniel said rehearsing for the play was stressful, but not in a bad way.
“It’s so emotional,” she said. “It’s the smallest cast of a show I’ve performed in.”
McDaniel said it was also intimidating having the department chair, J. Kevin Doolen, directing.
“It was wonderful,” McDaniel said. “I don’t think it would have been anywhere as good without the director and Holly Allen.”
McDaniel read the script a lot, researched, talked to a bereavement counselor, and drew upon her own experiences when rehearsing for the play.
“I learned about everything I could,” she said.
Allen did the same, putting herself in her character’s shoes when acting.
“All that was going through my head was ‘if I was a mother, how would I feel?’” she said.
Allen has acted in plays with a small cast before, such as when she acted in the play “Fat Pig,” which had four people, but never a play with only one set.
One thing she hoped audience members took away from the play was that you do not know how long you have with people.
“Tell people that you love them,” she said.
Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]