University Theatre will debut a reimagining of Homer’s “The Odyssey” this Friday evening at the William Inge Memorial Theater. “Anon(ymous),” written by Naomi Iizuka, tells the story of Anon, a young refugee from an unnamed, war torn country as he searches for his long-lost family.
Spencer Gochis, who plays Anon, said that the longer the cast and crew worked on the show, the more they realized how relevant “Anon(ymous)”is to the current political climate. Gochis said it’s a valuable experience for him as an actor to be able to draw from current events.
The play was selected before the 2016 presidential election.
“It’s been very interesting, being cast in a show and watching the world around us kind of ask for this show to be performed,” Gochis said.
President Donald Trump has issued two executive orders since taking office that attempt to restrict residents of seven predominantly Muslim countries. Before being blocked by federal judges, both orders that in some capacity attempted to restrict or prohibit refugees’ entry into the United States.
The play’s director, theatre professor Jason Bohon, said Iizuka’s decision to give Anon a nameless homeland makes the audience relate more to his plight, as well as make them think of their own backgrounds.
“Naomi Iizukai is really challenging us to think about the fact that we are all immigrants,” Bohon said.
Bohon wanted the set to be reminiscent of a junkyard, which, “symbolizes transient space” of an immigrant’s journey. The actors will use props designed to look like junkyard materials to tell Anon’s story.
Gochis, a junior studying theatre performance with a role in the production, said his priority is to portray refugees and their struggles as respectfully as possible. He said it was difficult getting into the character Anon’s head because Gochis’s background is mostly in comedy, and his life is nothing like Anon’s.
“I’m a good kid from Overland Park, Kansas, that goes to school 45 minutes away from where my parents live,” Gochis said. “So my life is so completely different than Anon’s.”
“Anon(ymous)” premieres March 31 at 7:30 p.m. It will run until April 6. A talkback, where the cast and crew comes back out onstage after the show for a discussion with the audience, will happen after each of the first three performances. Tickets can be purchased and more information can be found on the University Theatre website.
— Edited by Ashley Hocking