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Student-created play stuns ’Deis Impact

Justice Contributing Writer

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 02:02


Josh Horowitz/The Justice

POINTING FINGERS: Amanda Stern ’15 portrays Susan Saxe’s ’70 battle for justice.

When Rebellion Becomes Revolution: A Play of Protest, Murder, Denial and Atonement, a play written and directed by Brandeis students in Prof. Joyce Antler’s (AMST) “History as Theater” class last semester, tells the story of Brandeis alumni and their impact on the world through social justice reform. Its directors, Amanda Stern ’15 and Julian Seltzer ’15, did an excellent job at catching the audience’s attention and keeping them on their toes throughout the entire play with a fast-moving plot.

The play was put on by the Free Play Theatre Cooperative and the American Studies Program with support from ‘DEIS Impact 2013.

The cast also did an outstanding job at displaying emotions through their characters, bringing the script to life by allowing us to see what really happened to Brandeis alumni and the pursuit for social justice. A cast of 14 undergraduates played more than 53 characters throughout the play—an amazing feat. All the actors were able to capture their multiple characters, switching their roles throughout the play with ease.

The audience filled in around the 8x8 stage filled with a ring of chairs as the lights shut off and the cast took their seats. The majority of the play focused on Susan Saxe ’70 and Kathy Power ’71, who were on the FBI’s Most Wanted list due to their anti-Vietnam actions, all in the interest of protesting and standing up for what they thought was just and right.

Perhaps the most emotional part of the entire play was Saxe’s letter to her dad in which she uttered the following lines before she went into hiding for being accused of murder: “America, your children hate you,” and “think of me as a soldier,” signed by herself. Saxe’s story was truly revolutionary in that she had a female lawyer, Nancy Gertner, which was rare at the time, at her court case defending her from a murder accusation.

As social justice is an extremely important part of the Brandeis community, it also had its due spotlight in this play. In the program for the production, the directors shared how their personal stake in social justice catalyzed their creative process: “At our first rehearsal, in January, we began by asking, ‘What is social justice?’ and also ‘How does your personal definition of social justice fit or not fit with the events of this play?’

“Throughout the rehearsal process, we have looked for ways to encourage critical thinking among our cast and crew and now audience regarding these questions.”

Of the 15 cast members, the two that stood out the most for their emotional roles were Stern, who played Susan Saxe, and Jen Largaespada ’16, who played Saxe’s lawyer, Nancy Gertner. Seltzer and Largaespada made a lasting impression on the audience during the court case scene. This scene was one that genuinely left the stage and invaded the minds of the audience.

Another emotional scene involved the parole hearing with one of the women who were on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, in which Barbara Spidle ’16 and Barbara Rugg ’15 played Clare Schroeder and Kathy Power, respectively. Jake Cohen ‘15, who played Judge McLaughlin during the court case scene, played another outstanding role.

By the end of the play, the audience was able to take away a comprehensive understanding of what truly happened to Saxe and Powers and other noble Brandeis alumni.

After the play ended, the cast and crew graciously incorporated a talkback in which they all spoke about what social justice meant to them in society and at Brandeis.

The directors made the following statement: “We hope this play will find resonance for all our after-show talkbacks. We think this will be a great opportunity for Brandeis students from several generations.”

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