While the issue of mental health has been prevalent at Yale, it has also resonated with many others outside of the college community.
After premiering at Yale in early April, “Under,” by Monica Hannush ’16 and Julian Drucker ’16, wrapped up its run at the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival, which concluded on Sunday. The musical follows a student named Serena and the surrounding events that lead to her admission to Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital. After being selected for the Fringe in late April, the production was one of over 200 shows that were staged over the course of the festival. Hannush, the show’s playwright, said the production team had been planning to stage the show at the festival before the play opened at Yale.
“As soon as I knew it was going to be a full-fledged production, I knew I wanted to submit it to the Fringe,” Hannush said. “The way we processed feedback from the show when we did it at Yale was almost as if the Yale production was a workshop production.”
In preparation for their New York performance, members of the production team made several changes to the version of the show that was performed at Yale. Drucker said they added three new songs because ensemble members felt that not enough time was being allotted to musical parts. Still, Drucker added, the show was cut down to be only 100 minutes in length.
All six cast members interviewed agreed that the most challenging aspect of the preparation process was making sure that all of the facilities and equipment were set up in time for the show to begin. Jordan Schroeder ’16, who plays a character named Mark, said the team was not able to obtain access to the theater until opening night. He added that for the opening performance, the projectors in the theater did not work.
Drucker said the logistical constraints of staging a show are more stringent at the Fringe than they are at Yale, where productions are given an entire week for rehearsal before opening night. At the festival, the team was give only 15 minutes before and after to prepare for and take apart their show.
“Everything was so fast-paced, and there really wasn’t a lot of time to do tech rehearsal, to be in the space and rehearse with microphones or lights, so it was very crammed,” said Aaron McAleavey ’18, who plays Billy. “It was challenging not being able to have the time to get that down and make sure it went smoothly.”
Hannush said she believes that the show’s performance in New York was an affirmation that the discussions of mental health on college campuses have spread beyond the Yale community. She added that the conflicts faced by the characters are not limited to either Yale or the Ivy League. Hannush noted that she plans to submit “Under” for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, which staged 22 theater productions in addition to a number of concerts and readings over the course of July.