NYC Director Oversees Original Play at Drew University

'Too Big' on stage at Shakespeare Theatre April 24-26.

Students rehearsing a scene from TOO BIG
Students rehearsing a scene from TOO BIG

Finding a job, paying for college, coping with debt – these are all topics that weigh heavily on the minds of college students, so much so, they can become TOO BIG.

TOO BIG is the theme of a national performance project created by Associate Professor Lisa Brenner and Drew is one of four universities nationwide exploring that theme with an original play. www.toobigproject.com  Drew’s Theatre and Dance Departments will perform TOO BIG from April 24-26 at the Kirby Shakespeare Theatre. The first two shows are at 7 p.m. and the Saturday performance is at 2 p.m. 

The play is satirical, serious and funny in parts and takes on social media, student debt, selfies, the generation gap and includes original music played on a ukulele.

The play features original songs and choreographed dance numbers by Drew students created as part of their senior Capstone projects. The play was written by Brenner and is Directed by Tectonic Theater Company member Barbara Pitts McAdams. McAdams is a professional director and part of the original theater company that produced The Laramie Project.

“Each project creates an environment to discover things about yourself,” said Professor McAdams. I hope the audience is first and foremost entertained and invested in the characters we've created and the way we've chosen to tell the story.”

For more than six months, Drew students majoring in Theatre, Dance and Sociology, collaborated to put on the play, which explores issues facing the Millennial generations – including how to pay for college and find a job after graduation. The students studied interviewing skills and surveyed their classmates about topics that stress and overburden them – all of which has been incorporated into the play.

The tagline is: TOO BIG: An original play about Millennials' take on money, debt, access, and opportunity.

“We’re talking about Millennials and their place in the world, the economy and how it's affecting the Millennials,” said Courtney Cooke, a senior and member of Drew’s Dramatic Society. “We wanted to really immerse people into the story. There’s something in the show to connect to everyone. It’s such a relevant topic.”

 “It impacts us directly no matter what our background is,” said Senior Cassidy Nogueira. “It’s a problem that seems too big, but the more information you have, the better you can battle it.”

 “We want to activate people, to give the younger generation a greater understanding of what’s going on,” said Professor Brenner. Brenner said the play explores the theme of the transition from childhood to maturity and from camaraderie to competition– symbolized in the production by two popular book series’ – Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Funding for the project was underwritten, in part, by an Andrew W. Mellon grant.

 The students plan to invite high school students to watch and get a head start on the issues they will be facing in the future, said Senior Cassidy Nogueira 

Admission to the shows is free.  Talkback with community organizations will follow the performances. 

About Drew University

Drew University is a private, liberal arts university located in Madison, N.J., just 29 miles west of New York City. Ranked among the top liberal arts institutions nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and Washington Monthly, Drew is also listed in Princeton Review’s Best 378 Colleges. The Drew promise—We Deliver Full-Impact Learning to the World—emphasizes the university’s commitment to borderless education that enables a student’s greatest success in a globally connected world. Drew has a total student enrollment of more than 2,000 in three schools: the College of Liberal Arts, the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies and the Drew Theological School. The undergraduate program offers degrees in 30 different disciplines, while Caspersen and the Theological School offer degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels.

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