A new play called “Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England” opens at the Healy Theatre of DePaul on Oct. 20 and runs through Oct. 29.
The play takes place in a college town and follows the narrative of Dean, her young girlfriend, and her ex.
It begins when the Dean’s ex-girlfriend shows up at her office and announces that her cancer is back. The Dean then asks that she move back in with her, while her current girlfriend is moving in as well.
“What that means is that all three women are in a strange love triangle and will be living under the same roof with each other,” director April Cleveland said.
Sophomore Mira Jugade played the role of Dean Wreen, whose character motions to shut down the town’s rarely visited but beloved museum.
“The fun thing about my character is that she was stuck between her ex-girlfriend and current girlfriend, which is very evident,” Jugade said. “She is the access point for the audience when the museum is closing and all she is trying to do is please people.”
The cast started rehearsing in early September by “dropping in,” a process to learn lines by improvising.
“One of the things we did for rehearsal was the actors never had their scripts in their hands while they were onstage,” Cleveland said. “I wanted the actors to start feeling what the story was like without the scripts in our hand.”
Jugade says the dropping in process was hard but helpful.
“Someone would read my lines to me and I would memorize them orally and that was how I learned lines and major chunks in this play,” Jugade said.
Audience members thought the play was very funny.
“My initial thoughts of the play was that it was very witty,” sophomore Kamari Saxon said. “I first thought that the humor was very eccentric and to say something under that would be an understatement.”
Other audience members enjoyed the characterization of the play.
“It seemed so genuine,” freshman Keimom Shook said. “I can actually see the actors processing these emotions and then living them out on the stage.”
Cleveland directed this production because she wanted to tell a story about women who are not spending most of their time talking about men.
“The cast did an extraordinary job,” Cleveland said. “Their relationships with each other are strong and it was the first time we had a big audience and the audience was laughing all over the place so I think that was really positive for the actors. The idea of the play me is: ‘What is worth taking with us?’ What is worth holding on to? What we should leave behind?’”
Changes were still being made to the script during the days the play was being previewed.
“The play sort of changes once you get the audience in the room because you see where the audience laughed and did not laugh, and where they may not have understood a specific part,” Cleveland said. “So during the preview stage, you talk to the audience and get their reactions and make a few little tweaks to try and clean up the story.”
Cleveland was inspired to bring the play to DePaul’s Theatre School to add lightness to the often heavy productions that come through the school.
“In this play there are three queer women and men that are almost never spoken of and they are actually talking about interesting things like philosophy or the academic administration and the history and future of their relationship,” Cleveland said. “I was so interested in bringing smart women and a comedy to the theater school because we do a lot of dramas and it would be a good idea to bring in a few laughs.”