by Melissa Lau
Beginning last Thursday “This is Our Youth” erupted from the wings of Dailey Theater’s Main Stage.
Written by Kenneth Lonergan and directed by senior theater major Obren Milanovic, the play covered many mature topics.
Warren Straub (Adam Shenkman) is a college student who steals money from his dad and runs away. He then seeks refuge at his best friend’s apartment, Dennis Ziegler (David Sturgeon).
Warren used his money to pay Dennis back for drug money he owed him. Warren thinks he might be able come up with the money he used so he can replace his dad’s money before its disappearance is discovered. To do this, they start selling crack.
In the process, Warren tries to hook up with Jessica, a friend of Dennis’ girlfriend. She has the constant fear of being taken advantage of.
The next day, Dennis and Warren receive the news that the drug dealer died. This shocks Warren, but especially Dennis, and causes them to contemplate their own lives.
“These characters crave recognition from each other because they lack it from their families,” Milanovic said.
He also said that the possibility of ending up bitter and alone frightens them.
Planning for “This is our Youth” began in January; rehearsals began in February. This production was one component of Milanovic’s senior project. Although he has directed four films at the New York Film Academy, this was his first time directing a play at the University of La Verne.
“It was phenomenal,” he said.
Milanovic chose this play because of the tough issues that are presented.
He believes that although the play was written a while back, the issues that were addressed can still apply to today.
Because students can relate to the characters, Milanovic feels that there is a direct connection with the audience.
Jeanette Short, an audience member said, “I think it was really realistic. It brings up topics that people at school don’t want to discuss, like the use and selling of drugs.” She added, “It’s about how people in life don’t feel that they have a connection with anything. They’ve lost faith in everything.”
ULV alumnus La Velle Wilson said, “This is basically Obren telling it how it isWe’re in a theater department where we can tell our reality. He’s done a wonderful job about not color coating anything about youth.”
Milanovic not only incorporated the audience into the theme, but also into the set.
Seating for the play was so close to the staging area, it was as if the audience was looking through a window of the room.
This was sophomore theater major Stephanie Barraco’s first production as an actress.
Barraco, who played Jessica Goldman, experienced both acting and directing.
“I definitely learned a lot,” she said. “It’s definitely a good first play to have. You never felt like it had to be perfect.”
She admits that she had not been involved in theater before college, but has wanted to be an actress since she was 13 years old.
Although she did not act, she did dance.
Barraco enjoyed playing Jessica because she was able to relate to her. Jessica is the same age as Barraco, and wonders about the things that most college students can relate to, such as living away from home and friends moving away.
She hopes to study at the Guildford School of Acting in England next year.
The playwright is also known for his 2000 Academy Award nominated film “You Can Count on Me” as well as the film “Analyze This.”
Above all, Milanovic appreciates the work of the cast.
He gives a lot of praise to the cast and the crew.
“It was really courageous work,” he said.