This Friday, NYU CAS Theater will open its much-anticipated performance of “The Heidi Chronicles” at 8 p.m.
This powerful story follows the journey of best friends Heidi and Susan, as they overcome society’s gender norms from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Director Kristen Sweeney, a senior in Gallatin School for Individualized Study, discussed the play’s significance for modern audiences, drawing a connection between gender inequality today and that of forty years ago.
“[It] draws a connection with our history, shows how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney chose to produce “The Heidi Chronicles” to raise awareness among millennials of what the baby boomer generation experienced. In doing so, she realized how much our generations actually have in common.
The 1960s saw the start of the second wave of the Feminist Movement in the United States, which largely focused on the issues of inequality in the workplace, reproductive rights and legal privileges. The play’s protagonist becomes part of this movement.
“Heidi is very lost,” Sweeney said. “So she latches on to the feminist movement to give her life vitality.”
Though Sweeney had never previously worked with any members of this cast, nor had any members of the cast worked with one another, they quickly developed a strong camaraderie which was made clear by the fun, light-hearted atmosphere present during rehearsal. Kristen Vaganos (Heidi) and Juliet Kapanjie (Susan), both sophomores in Tisch, agreed that working with such a small cast created a sense of closeness among the actors.
“We all develop our characters together, we grow up together,” Vaganos said.
There are only six other actors on the cast: Nicky Boulos, Nick DeMasi, Cheryle Chong, Marissa Ontiveros, Carly Messig and Trevor Lown.
Vaganos and Kapanjie found it wasn’t too difficult to become absorbed in their characters’ personalities;they were able to identify with their characters in many issues brought up in the play.
“[There are] parts of Heidi that I find in myself, which gives me a strong basis,” Vaganos said.
Similarly, Kapanjie found that playing Susan let her explore another part of herself.
“Susan allows me to just go to my goofy side, my more fun side,” Kapanjie said.
However, in order for the actors to become fully drawn into a scene, they have to understand each other’s characters as well as their own.
“Getting the group dynamic is one of the hardest things to do, but [the show is] more authentic, more real when the actors are receiving each other’s experiences,” Sweeney said.
In order to accomplish this, Sweeney would sometimes have the actors switch roles. This exercise, Vaganos says, helped her learn more about her own character, based on how she treats Heidi’s character while playing another role.
After two months of preparing for the show, the cast is excited to present “The Heidi Chronicles,” an entertaining performance that is also relatable to modern-day society.
“The Heidi Chronicles” is playing at the Steinhardt Education Building, 35 W. 4th St. from April 8 to 10.
Email Leigh Anderson at [email protected]