By Shannon Miller
Aaron Cooper, a senior theatre major, is presenting a timeless theatre piece this weekend at the Rifle Range Theatre on Oct. 26, 27 and 28. His play is powerful in theme and presentation. It’s message is universal, touching the very core of who we truly are as individuals in a society that is constantly changing, and analyzing the thoughts and actions of the human experience.
Cooper, a member of the Honors College, received the chance to fulfill his dream of becoming a director by writing his own play in preparation for his honors thesis. He conducted extensive research, combined it with his passions and scripted a compelling piece of theatre. Cooper’s play is a stage reading titled, “A Day on Venus.” He began writing it in summer 2017, after a former roommate told him about an experience living with a woman in Seattle, Wash. He decided to render the script for his Rifle Range lab. The lab is a project designed to allow students to produce their own cutting-edge, experimental theatre productions. “The format of the Rifle Range is to discover the process; discover it for yourself,” Cooper said.
The premise behind his title stems from his experience as a black man facing microaggressions, who must change himself continuously to fit into society. “A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus because the actual revolution of the planet is faster than the actual rotation on its axis,” Cooper said. “Every day feels like a new year.”
The play originally consisted of unusual interactions between a black man and a white woman; however, through research for his thesis, which is independent from the show and studies the black body, he realized that his main character can be male, female, or non-binary. This allowed him to cast musical theatre major, Emmanuella Agoumba, a female, as the leading “male” role. Working alongside her on stage is cast member and musical theatre major, Michaela Fox.
In Cooper’s play there is no set. Some light cues exist, but the stage belongs to just two actors and a reader, with stands and chairs. Instead of showing you what the setting or world of the play should look like, the stage reader tells you. The reader, technical theatre major, Megan Montemurro, serves as a narrator, and provides all stage directions to the audience, cast and stage crew.
Showtimes for Friday and Saturday are 7:30 p.m., and Sunday’s show begins at 3 p.m. The show is open to the public, and tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance for $15 (students receive a discount with LIU ID) at www.tix55.com.