The Warriors: An Eye Opening Experience
By Josh Chamberlain ‘14
Editor’s note: The play The Warriors was recently performed in the ArtStreet gallery as a contributing piece to the provocative exhibit on gun violence in America, “Bullet: Who Pulls the Trigger?” The show, written by Evan Linder and directed by Evan Linder and Brian LaDuca, is based on the story of actress and school shooting survivor, Mary Hollis Inboden. Due to the limited and unconventional space in which the play was held, a unique style of staging was used, requiring the actors to move about the space freely, and the audience along with it. Josh Chamberlain acted in the play as the character JC, a bitter art school grad student, and one of the fellow survivors and old friends of Mary Hollis. This is Josh’s post-production response to his experience working with the play:
I’ll go ahead and be honest: I wasn’t sold the first time I read the script for The Warriors. I loved the conversation it created, the characters it brought to life, and the resolution to the tragedy at Jonesboro that it offered, but the script felt like it was missing something. Given, I was reading it on a computer screen and not watching it onstage, but it still seemed incomplete. During that first read-through, I distinctly remember thinking that the show didn’t work.
Evan Linder proved me wrong.
Having worked in alternative theatre settings for years, putting on a performance in an art gallery didn’t seem like that foreign of a concept. While I had concerns about staging, clarifying onstage action, and technical elements, Evan knew exactly what he wanted. Instead of offering a stationary performance from a single area of the gallery, much in the way a stage functions, Evan created an experience. Every one of Evan’s ideas, from involving the audience in stage movement to using flashlights to light the stage, made me realize more and more how incredibly special this show was.
On opening night, we were introduced to the Mary Hollis Inboden, who had conceived the idea for the show based on her personal experience in Jonesboro. The six of us actors and actresses were in a room together before the show, anxious before bringing it to life. The minute Mary Hollis walked into the room, the energy changed. We all instantly snapped into something bigger than each of us as we hugged the woman who had inspired the project.
“I’m proud of all of you,” she said.
The performance itself was a blur of laughter, tears, and hope. Being so close to the audience allowed each of us the opportunity to not only witness their reaction, but also draw from that reaction. The Warriors truly was a journey from start to finish, for members of the audience as well as those of us who worked on the show.
I’ve performed in and directed numerous different shows, but this one stands out as the most important to me. It added a layer of creativity to an ArtStreet exhibit that was already firm in its core themes and aesthetics. This show discussed a political topic with the language of humanity and emotion, a difficult feat in a world that politicizes the most basic events. Its goal was not to point fingers or lay blame, but to emphasize the need for human connection in the face of tragedy. I’ve heard numerous people say in the past year and a half that ArtStreet gives art a purpose, and this show is a prime example of that. The Warriors sought to prove how important community is, and in doing so, proved that none of us are ever alone.
To learn more about The Warriors, you can read about writer and director Evan Linder’s description of and experience with the play in our former blog article, “The Warriors, an Interview with Writer and Director Evan Linder.”
Josh Chamberlain is Senior English and American Studies Major. He serves on the Studio Theatre Board of Directors and is the managing co-editor of Off Topic, a student-run zine focused on human rights within a cultural context.