This Valentine’s weekend, a student production of “Turquoise” — a play written by Yale theater studies professor Deborah Margolin — will tell stories of love and memory. Performances will take place in the Off-Broadway Theater from Feb. 13 to 15.
“Turquoise” follows three individual storylines. An old married couple struggles with physical and mental deterioration, trying to remember the word for the color turquoise. Two teenage boys attempt to bear the emotional weight of a recent suicide attempt and figure out what they mean to one other. A pianist with a brain injury, who can only remember every last seven seconds of his life, and his day nurse navigate their relationship. These six people — unified by their preoccupations with memory, love and loss — slowly overlap in a symphony of love and suffering.
Margolin said she is honored that students are putting up “Turquoise” — her favorite play that she has written.
According to Margolin, it was important to her to represent a multigenerational array of characters. “Turquoise” gives audiences a glimpse into the lives of both elderly people and children, which is rarely seen in adult plays. Although the characters are highly individual, they have the power to shine a broad light on humanity.
Margolin said that people go to the theater for the “revelation of humanity,” and that she is “excited that college students will be able to see themselves under many different guises.”
The themes of the show’s three storylines converge over the course of the play. According to Margolin, the play highlights the “simultaneity of everything,” exemplifying the range of experiences happening at the same time around the world.
Margolin said the play is the closest she has come to capturing the “tenderness of humanity.” The play also features many elements of humor, which she believes has the power to encompass all experiences.
Director Lulu Klebanoff ’20 said Margolin’s writing speaks to her because it conveys powerful messages while leaving “silences” in between the lines for audiences to fill in on their own.
“She has a really clear voice and creates emotionally resonant images,” Klebanoff said. “But she doesn’t tell you explicitly why she’s putting them together — the audience has to do part of the work.”
Klebanoff explained that, in the play, “one world leads to another world.” As director, she needed to navigate the “different demands” of each storyline. Two first years acting at Yale for the first time play the old couple contending with memory loss, while two theater studies majors play the teenage friends confronted with matters of suicide.
“Because this play is very complicated and leaves a lot of silence, I don’t expect to dictate anyone’s experience with it,” Klebanoff said. “I’m interested to see what parts of it speak to different people.”
Iragi Nkera ’21, who plays one of the teenage boys, said the story emphasizes the interconnectedness of all human experiences. In order to understand one character, one must understand the others, Nkera said.
Shows will take place each night at 8 p.m., with an additional afternoon show at 2 p.m. on Feb. 15.
Carrie Zhou | firstname.lastname@example.org