What happens when the familiar becomes unfamiliar? When the crooked but comforting bar stool you always sit on — it’s your seat after all — is suddenly occupied by some university professor from the new college town near the highway that’s been redirecting businesses, leaving your bar an empty shell of what it once was: a home away from home. What do you do? Really, what can you do?
“The Nest,” a powerful contemporary play by Distinguished Professor of Playwriting Theresa Rebeck, explores questions like these with impassioned, relatable characters who engage in exciting, emotionally charged and politically relevant discussions.
The play takes place in one location over the course of three nights. In a way, “The Nest” offers a porthole view of what’s going on in society, a removed but accessible experience for audiences. Sophia Watts, the play’s director, says “The Nest” gives audiences the chance to draw back the curtains and see how people behave when they think they’re alone.
“I hope this play inspires people to work through the difficult conversations, topics like gentrification,” Watts says. “I hope the audience will examine why people feel the way they feel, how the personal bleeds into the political.”
Shannon Uphold, a School of Theatre & Dance graduate student who plays Lila, the Nest’s owner, agrees. The play tackles legacy, history and identity in the face of change. But amid the tension and drama are heartwarming moments that’ll leave you smiling between tears.
“Toward the middle of the play, you see this sweet and funny moment between Lila and Nick, Lila’s husband, where he teases her about her poor cooking skills,” Uphold laughs. “It’s this old argument of, ‘Oh, of course you burned the food again, babe.’ You can’t help but smile and gush over the two.”
Watts is also excited for audiences to get a front-row seat to the wild quirky storytelling that happens late at night in a bar full of drunk and outspoken people. She can’t wait to see how audiences will react to the character-driven play and discussion.
“‘The Nest’ explores the value of community, what it means to be a regular,” Watts says. “It also captures what it feels like to be a part of a community, to have loved ones and how losing places like these is to our own detriment. ‘The Nest’ is a chance to laugh and reflect.”