Play gives a blast from the past

In Features
Courtesy of Leonard Suryajaya

“It’s 1965—freelove, civil unrest, marijuana, the military draft, Vietnam War and college kids trying to find their way into adulthood,” reads the description of Michael Weller’s play Moonchildren, which will open this weekend at Cal State Fullerton.

Nearly every weekend for the next month, Hallberg Theatre will experience a blast from the past as Moonchildren runs from November through early December.

Moonchildren examines a group of college students living together during one of the most tumultuous time periods in America: the 1960s. On the verge of their final year in college, the characters must deal with growing up and facing reality as they wade through the upheaval of the Vietnam War and the sexual revolution.

Gary Fields, who plays Bob (one of the seven students in the play), said Moonchildren is really about growing up, which is something that every person can relate to.

“Finding the humor in growing up and some of the sadness in it, there’s a lot of that going on in the play and there’s just so much that people can relate to,” said Fields. “And even though we’re separated by forty-something years, a lot of the issues of the play are still very relevant to today.”

Janelle Kester, who plays Ruth (another student in the play), agreed that Moonchildren is relatable and surprisingly poignant for not being very contemporary.

“Our characters deal with being in war time, being in college, graduating from college, worrying about the future, handling a “grown-up” generation (that doesn’t understand us), questioning our existence, fighting for relevance, having fun and rocking out,” said Kester.

As an ensemble play, each character has their own storyline and situations. But it all comes together in the running themes of the play.

Director Travis Donnelly called Bob the lead of the play, but added that it is very much a story that relies on every character.

Fields, on the other hand, views Moonchildren as a play that examines themes through the cast as a whole.

“It’s very much an ensemble play. I personally don’t believe that there is one main character in the play. It’s really about all of us,” Fields said.

The cast conducted outside research on the time period in order to enhance the experience and realism of the play, added Fields. As a group, the cast presented the material gathered to each other and discussed it before rehearsals even began.

“Because the cast has been so naturally respondent to the characters, it’s been a very easy process on my part,” said Donnelly on directing the play.

Donnelly added that instead of having to lead everyone, it was more of a finessing project. He described the cast as wonderful and said they came together from the get-go.

“It’s really been an exploratory process for the cast versus a leadership process,” Donnelly said.

The cast and crew had a lot of fun on stage through rehearsals, which should show through in the performances, added Donnelly. He expects a lot of laughs, but a lot of touching moments as well.

“I think that it’s going to be one of the most uplifting, fun shows of our season,” Donnelly said.

Moonchildren will run every weekend in the Hallberg Theatre from Nov. 9 to Dec. 9, with a break during fall break (Nov. 15-25).

Single tickets can be purchased for $11 (or $10 with advance Titan discount) online or at the Joseph Clays III Performing Arts Center Box Office. The box office is open Monday-Friday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and one hour before each performance.

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