‘A Bright New Boise’ wrapped Sunday

Katja Benz, Campus Reporter

A Bright New Boise, a play by playwright Samuel D. Hunter, debuted in the Doudna Fine Arts Center’s Black Box Theatre Thursday, Oct. 7, with its final show on Sunday.

The play’s first showing opened to a full house.

The minimal set included a fridge, two tables, chairs, a set of lockers, a microwave, a television and some counter space with cabinets, representing the break room of a Hobby Lobby. There was also a space that symbolized the parking lot behind the store in which the cast worked.

The dark comedy play focuses on five characters, all Hobby Lobby employees, as they navigate their own ideals regarding faith and try to find meaning in their lives, each struggling to find their way.

Anne Thibault, a theatre professor, directed the show. She said the show “works as a play of ideas, as a deep character study, and also as a comedy that still makes me laugh every show.”

“I hope the audience was immersed in the world of the play – that they felt transported to this depressing retail break room and the wide-open expanse of the parking lot behind the store,” Thibault said. “I hope they were able to have empathy for these five characters, who are all in search of human connection.”

Abby Moore, junior communication disorders and sciences major, attended the show Friday evening.

“Overall, the play itself is very overwhelming,” Moore said. “It makes you think really hard about a lot of different relevant topics.”

Mental health was an important theme of the play. Moore said that the play is topical because discussions about mental health are prevalent in today’s society.

“I think it was a very relevant play to do because we go about [addressing mental health issues] so well nowadays,” Moore said. “We get the help that we need, and if we don’t, we have people that will tell us to get the help that we need, but in the play, you really saw the contrast of how not to treat [mental health].”

Religion and faith were other themes addressed in the play, depicting what different levels of faith can look like, from non-believing to extreme.

“It goes to show that people can believe anything. And it may not necessarily resonate with everyone,” Moore said.

Thibault said that she chose this play because she wanted to bring something different and contemporary to the Eastern community.

“I choose plays that have the greatest acting challenges for our students,” Thibault said. “While I have a background in Shakespeare and other classical work, I really love bringing great contemporary playwrights to our students and our audiences. Sam Hunter is so brilliant and hilarious and heartbreaking all at once. We’re lucky to get to play in his world. It’s an actors’ gym up there, and the audience seems to love it too.”

Thibault also said she was grateful the audiences seemed invested and understood the humor of the play.

“This is one of the most talented and dedicated casts I have ever worked with at EIU,” Thibault said. “They are passionate about the work and have been since the first rehearsal. They really own this show and the audience can feel it.”

Moore also said that she thought the actors in the play did a great job.

“The acting was really good. I thought everyone did a phenomenal job,” Moore said.


Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]