To Gather Apart

In a time of unparalleled isolation, Suffolk theatre students and writer-director Nael Nacer, BA ’06, collaborated on an award-winning play about the power of connection
Story by Tony Ferullo

The Suffolk Theatre Department’s Zoom production of To Gather Apart, a comic drama about creating relationships in a virtual world, earned a Citizen Artist Award as well as special achievement honors for a company-generated work at the 2021 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in May.

Suffolk actors Anastasia “Taso” Bolkwadze, Class of 2022, and Vincent Douglass, Class of 2023, were recognized for special achievement in performance, and Samantha Noto, BA ’21, earned third place for excellence in sound design. Stage manager Ross Gray, BA ’21, received a merit award, as did the entire stage management team.

“It’s amazing what we accomplished in such a short period of time,” says Nael Nacer, BA ’06, a highly regarded member of the Boston theater community who directed the play, which was performed entirely via Zoom.

“The students were so receptive to a new idea, and they gave 100% to make this happen.”

To Gather Apart captures the humor, hardship, and human connections, including sometimes difficult discussions, of a Zoom theater group as they work remotely during quarantine. There are awkward introductions, Zoom technical issues, a date scene, and painful conversations.

Marilyn Plotkins, professor and former chair of the Theatre Department, praised Nacer and the student cast and crew for making To Gather Apart a glimpse of what theatre can become in a digital world.

“Not only was the play an artistic and technological triumph, but more importantly the students reported how closely their experience of the pandemic aligned with the heart of the show—the need for connection,” she says. “I believe that the show became a lifeline for many of them.”

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