Vertigo Productions’ spring show We Are in the Endtimes Now is a drama about a mysterious secluded neighborhood in the 1950s, where residents live under constant supervision and restrictions. When their neighbors begin to go missing, the residents seek answers, uncovering shocking revelations at every turn.
Communication senior Marley Smith began writing this show about a year ago. She took inspiration from real life when developing her script.
“This was based off of a facility that exists in San Diego that is meant to be a microcosm of 1950s America, and also Levittown — the experimental suburbia in which all the houses are modeled exactly the same,” Smith said.
According to Smith, the stage design is based off of the floor plan of a Levittown house.
Vertigo Productions, a student-run theatre board, solely puts on shows written by Northwestern students.
“One thing that is I think a huge challenge of writing for Vertigo is the fact that it’s not institutionally run in any way — it’s entirely students, so this was the first time that I’ve ever written a full length play that I had no class work supporting it,” Smith said. “Although I got a lot of supplemental help from students, it is interesting and difficult to not have it be underpinned by a curriculum.”
Communication junior and director Jeremy Pesigan feels he is in charge of the moment to moment storytelling. Pesigan believes this show lends itself to explore social structures.
“I think that part of what I want my work as a director to do is to interrogate and investigate the way that telling stories affects us, particularly the way that minoritized subjects can enact and perform things in performance that open up avenues of possibility into futures or utopias,” Pesigan said. “My constant feeling as a director is how can we make change in the thing that we’re doing. I think a lot of the show is about how can we take what we’ve inherited and move through it.”
The general premise of the show is vague at its start, but the context of where and who the characters are is revealed at the end of the first act. One of Pesigan’s top priorities is maintaining the flip that occurs once this information is revealed to the audience.
“Making sure that the audience is following the story from the perspective that I want them to, I think, is a challenge inside of this play,” Pesigan said.
Communication sophomore and producer Liana Runcie got involved with Vertigo as a freshman board representative, then she became the producer for the spring show.
“I was really interested in being really hands-on in the process as far as making student playwrights’ visions come true, so I became the spring producer for Vertigo,” Runcie said. “So what that has meant is doing a lot of logistics, a lot of budgeting, a lot of finance, a lot of organizational work.”
Although Runcie and the production team initially believed they had the Shanley space for week five of Spring Quarter, they were instead slotted for week three.
“That led to just a lot of reaching out to people and making sure they could still be a part of the process, but everyone who has been a part of this process has been so great and has been so committed and has really worked with us through everything,” Runcie said.
Smith hopes that after seeing the show, audiences will evaluate their own relationship with nostalgia and memory.
“As I’ve been writing it, something that I’ve been thinking a lot about is nostalgia as a tool and its commodification,” Smith said. “I think it is interesting to note what art and product we retain from our collective memory of an imagined America. I am very aware of the fact that it does genuinely bring people happiness and comfort in many capacities, but that it’s not a totally accessible feeling to everyone that lives in America.”
Pesigan thinks it is difficult to explain what the audience will take away from the show.
“I don’t have any words for it,” Pesigan said. “They have to come see it.”
We Are in the Endtimes Now is playing at Shanley Pavilion April 19 at 7 and 10 p.m. and April 20 at 3 and 7 p.m.