EVERYBODY Showcases New Opportunities for Aspiring Directors & Actors
Vaun Monroe Energizes Directing for Both Stage & Screen at Southern Oregon University
When Vaun Monroe arrived on campus at Southern Oregon University last Fall, the Communication, Media & Cinema program put one item on the top of his agenda: help the Digital Cinema program level up as a great place to learn how to direct film & video projects.
But SOU’s newest assistant professor also brought a deep commitment to stage directing, and Monroe’s multi-faceted interests quickly led him to seek out a collaborative partnership with SOU’s Theatre Arts program. That partnership has yielded fast results, as Monroe is directing the Spring production of the play Everybody at SOU’s Main Stage Theatre.
“This production gives us evidence that we can continue to have successful collaborations between Theatre Arts and Digital Cinema,” said Monroe. “As we move forward, the connections we make between actors and film students at SOU will lead to deeper, more relatable movies that express big ideas about the human condition.”
Speaking of the human condition: What kind of mark would you like to leave on the world? Everybody challenges its audience to ponder that very question. The show, which began its run on May 25, is a one-of-a-kind stage experience that explores the pitfalls of finding meaning and purpose in modern life.
“Everybody takes you on an existential journey, raising awareness of what follows you when your time is up.” said Connor Lomeli, one of the student actors featured in the show.
Everybody focuses on an eponymous protagonist who, when faced with the knowledge that he’s about to die, tries to convince someone to come with him into the land of the dead. The play is adapted from Every Man, a Roman Catholic morality play from 15th-century England.
“Together with my brilliant collaborators in the Theatre department, we put together a production that I’m proud of and one whose thematic concerns are a mirror to the times we live in,” said Monroe. “They welcomed me into their culture and showed me the ropes. Their work ethic, artistry and resilience are superb and the play is a testament to their outstanding esprit de corps.”
Among the first recorded plays in the English language, Every Man centered on the protagonist’s journey to achieve Christian salvation. The show was then adapted as Everybody in 2017 by acclaimed playwright Branden Jacob-Jenkins. Bringing Every Man’s themes into the 21st century, Jenkins turned the story’s focus to the nature of contemporary identity and human connection.
“The play asks, what is the meaning of life when various things are taken from you?” said Monroe. “Is friendship the thing you’re going to contribute to the world? Is love or art the thing that you’re going to contribute to the world? In the 15th century, the threat of going to hell was tantamount and ubiquitous for most people in the world. So, what is hell like in 2024?”
The cast of Everybody features 13 SOU students, many of whom play dual roles. The cast includes Jodie Chapin, Tegan Kelley, Rachel Engh, Daphne Cowlin, Tim Turner, Wyatt Fisher, Connor Lomeli, Emma Richardson, and Siena Schofield.
“Being a part of the Everybody team has been an incredible opportunity,” said Tegan Kelley, who plays the role of Death. “This show asks the audience to grapple with life’s big questions. I have found that by working with this script so closely, my outlook on living has definitely changed.”
Remaining performances of Everybody are scheduled for June 1–3 at 8:00pm, with matinees on June 3 & 4 at 2:00pm. Everybody has a performance runtime of about 100 minutes and is rated PG-13 for mature language and content, which includes discussion of death. The show also has a trigger warning for bright, flashing lights.
Tickets are priced at $20 for reserved seating and $15 for seniors. Tickets may be purchased in-person at the OCA box office one hour prior to the performances or during the weekly operating hours of Monday-Friday, 12 PM-6 PM. Tickets can also be purchased over the phone at 541–552–6348 or online at https://sou.universitytickets.com.
Story by Ripley Pierotti, Community Manager for the Communication, Media & Cinema Program at Southern Oregon University.