Spoiler Warning for Hoboken, New Jersey.
BY SYDNEY STUMPF & FALYN KELLEY
On March 23rd, Malden High School’s Play Production held their second play of the school year: Hoboken, New Jersey. The play was focused on the individual relationships at the wedding reception of Dwight Guy, a Caucasian male, and Ani, a Brazilian woman who moved to America for college.
At the wedding, Ani’s sister informs her other sister as well as her father about her moving to America. Neither are happy about it, although their mother, Rosa, is pretty positive about the move. Their father is against the idea of his daughters assimilating into American culture, and he sees that at the wedding with the Americanized food, drink, and music.
The caterers are a husband and wife duo. The husband buys tickets to the Philippines, and the wife does not want to leave her children and her catering business. The wife, who is from the Philippines, speaks in her native language throughout the play, creating more depth to the already diverse production.
Two of the couples’ college friends are in a state between having a relationship and not, as she is doing humanitarian work, and he is staying in America.
A self-scripted play, Hoboken, New Jersey, has a lot of romance, drama, comedy; “it’s the total package,” said sophomore Michayla Moody, who played Angelica, the flower girl at the wedding. Describing her character, Moody noted that Angelica was a “symbol of coming of age within the female community,” as her character, a young girl, gets her period for the first time during the wedding reception.
Sophomore, Dexter Farren Haag played a college friend of the couple, Bentley. Bentley and Nora, another friend of the couple played by senior Gabriella Onessimo, are the “stereotypical social justice warriors,” and throughout the play, patronize other characters for eating meat, while Nora comforts Angelica as she goes through this coming of age moment.
One of the main characters, Ani, is played by senior Karina Matos, who described her character as “very energetic and happy.” Playing Ani’s mother is sophomore Leticia Sidney. Rosa tries to spend the time with her family at her daughter’s wedding, as she traveled from Brazil, but is also trying to “help her husband come to terms with everything: helping him to let go and accept the reality of what is happening,” as he is not as accepting of the marriage.
As for the process of writing the play, it was “very long,” but “so much fun,” Moody explained. Beginning with a quote from Bob Dylan’s My Back Pages, “Ah, but I was so much older then I'm younger than that now,” in December, and improv-ing off of that quote. “Once [they] had [their] characters and setting, it didn’t take long for things to fall together,” Sidney stated. S
ince the play was largely based off of improvisation done prior, it was pretty easy to memorize their lines, many of the actors noted. “After establishing that [their] play was going to be at the end of a wedding, we just built characters and stories,” said Sidney. Sophomore Farren Haag said that, as the group scripted, the props, set, and costumes came along. Matos noted how the improvisation aspect of creating the show “meant that [they] were constantly making changes to it up to about a week before [they] performed it.”
MHS English teacher Miranda Libkin, who helped with the play, noted the many ideas being thrown around before the idea of wedding was chosen. Libkin said after the wedding was the chosen scene, “there were even more ideas, like who's there how are they connected to each other, how are they not connected, and what happens at a wedding.”
The show was part of Drama Festivals, in which Malden High’s theater production department went to Weston and Wellesley to perform their self-scripted play. Haag explained that about eight schools put on their shows at a host school. Hoboken, New Jersey was first performed at Weston. At these performances judges critique the shows and the actors get awards. “A lot of people came up to [them] after and said it really resonated with them and they could relate to the characters and events a lot,” Haag stated about the performances done at Weston and Wellesley.
Before performing the play in Malden, Moody thought the audience was going to “adore it,” as it would “really pull on the heartstrings.” Overall, Moody said that “there's a lot of amazing moments, whether they are funny or romantic, or intense.”
Sidney was hopeful that the audience was going to enjoy seeing the “variety of people [and cultures] represented.” As Hoboken, New Jersey, Sidney stated, is a very political show, she believed that the audience would form some sort of opinion on the topics and issues addressed. However, Sidney hoped that “they see the sweeter side of it, with the relationships within the families and the more comedic parts.”
Haag thought the production’s look at political issues was “more underlying.” He thought that the play was “representative of current events in a subtle way.” In Weston, where the group first performed Hoboken, New Jersey, Matos noted how it was performed in front of “a bunch of other actors and two judges,” and how the group “received a really positive response from that.”
At the performance done at MHS, Matos stated how the “performance was good, but [they] got less feedback about what people thought about the play.” At the final performance in Wellesley, there were new judges who “also really loved the play.”
The first time performing the play “was the most exhilarating,” said Matos, “since not only was it the first performance but it was also in front of other actors and judges.” The performance at Wellesley, the last one, really “impacted [Matos], because [she’s] a senior and it was [her] last Drama Festival and the last time [they] would perform this play.”
Libkin said that creating the play was “a little bit stressful,” as she is not “used to creating.” However, she does believe that the rewards is greater. There is lots of “relief and excitement afterwards.”
Moody added that they “really put so much work into this show” and that she’s “super proud of this production.”
Sidney said that after performing the play “all the hard work [was] definitely worth it.” Haag added how a lot of “blood, sweat, and tears” were put into this production.
As a senior, Karina Matos “will never forget the experience [she has] had with these people, and being part of this play as well as Play Production.” Matos “might never get to be Ani again, but [she] loved being a part of her life for a bit, and [she knows] that the fake family [she] acted with will always be a real family to [her] no matter what.”