Junior Jaden Rogers presented Edward Albee’s one-act play “The Zoo Story” in the final round of Directing II projects on May 21-22.
“The Zoo Story” follows the meeting of characters Peter and Jerry in Central Park and their first conversation upon meeting. The two are presented as contrasting characters. Rogers described Peter as a well-put-together, wealthy man whereas Jerry is more scatterbrained and unpredictable, which he said made for interesting conversations with the actors.
“Working with that language barrier between the two characters and kind of taking two contrasting people and having a realistic conversation that you would believe actually happened is definitely a highlight for me,” Rogers said.
When asked what stood out to him the most in the show, first-year Steven Cere, who played Peter, mentioned, “The connection Jerry… tries to make with my character, the need and want for that connection with someone else.”
Through Jerry and Peter’s conversation about going to the zoo, the text explores ideas such as isolation and loneliness. Rogers said he selected the work because of how these ideas can be applicable to the present-day COVID-19 pandemic.
“The show lends itself to the somatic lens of isolation and I think, given the world we live in right now, something that is overlooked is that mental health aspect of what isolation and quarantine has done to people on a different level,” Rogers said.
Cere added, “With COVID, masks and everything, isolation [has] definitely gone up with a lot of people. You know, even if they… were not necessarily a social person, they at least had the option to be and now they don’t.”
Rogers said he also chose “The Zoo Story” due to his admiration of Albee’s writing. “I came across Albee’s writing and I fell in love,” Rogers said. “It’s truly the writing that made me fall in love with it, the characters are so different, but share such an important outlook on life. And the writing is so specific and so articulated and so deep and impactful.”
Due to issues with gaining access to live streaming rights, Rogers’ directing project was not available for remote audiences. The Directing II projects were available in-person for a small, invited audience.
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