As the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings approaches, people are planning memorials and commemorations across the city. A special tribute is in the works on the campus of Suffolk University: an original play written and directed by two senior Theatre students.
STRONG: The Boston Marathon Project will premiere on April 17 at Suffolk’s Studio Theatre.
Paige Monopoli BA ’15 decided to write the play as her capstone project in the Suffolk Honors Program, with fellow theatre student Alexa Costa BA ’15 as the co-creator. Both students had written and directed shows for the Theatre Department before, and felt strongly about tackling the topic of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“We wanted the people who were at the Marathon that day to have their voices heard,” Monopoli said. “It is important to keep talking about it so that no one forgets how it impacted the whole city and how we all rose up together.”
Healing Through Community
The play chronicles the healing process of seven people who were at the Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013. Stage manager Erica LeBlanc BA '14 reached out to The One Fund, the nonprofit organization founded to help those most affected by the bombings, to get in touch with survivors. Monopoli and Costa then conducted video interviews with a nurse, two EMTs, and four other bystanders.
“The interviews inspired us to tell the story of the healing process and finding strength in the darkest of times,” Monopoli said. “All the interviews consistently mentioned the Boston community, so that is one of the themes of the show.”
The play takes place on a Boston subway car and comprises seven monologues containing direct quotes from the interviews. “They were generous enough to let me come in to their homes and ask them questions about a very difficult day, and I wrote the script from those interviews,” Monopoli said.
While Monopoli penned the show, Costa sat in the director’s chair. The cast and crew is composed of 13 Suffolk students and two alumni, with both Monopoli and Costa playing roles in addition to their writing and directing duties.
A Reflective Tribute
Theatre professor Wesley Savick has been advising the pair since they started work on the play almost a year ago. Savick has directed over 100 theatre productions and written 25 of his own original pieces, so he has been an extremely valuable mentor throughout the creative process. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without him,” Monopoli said. “He knows how to guide us in the right direction while still letting us make our own decisions.” In return, Savick calls the duo “gifted and passionate young artists.”
“Paige and Alexa are creating a reflective, respectful, ritualistic way for the Boston community to celebrate the indomitable spirit of its citizens, both individually and collectively,” said Savick. “I am deeply moved by their steadfast faith in the power of theatre to help heal our wounds and exorcise our fears.”
STRONG: The Boston Marathon Project opens on Friday, April 17 at 8 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at Suffolk University, with another performance on Saturday, April 18 at 3 p.m. Both shows are sold out. More shows may be added, so check suffolk.edu/theatre for updates.