Students’ personal stories bring the Philly Fringe play “54: All Together Equal” to life.
For a dozen people crowded in a small apartment room, brainstorming seemed to become a communal experience. Although they did not have the most ideal space to rehearse for their upcoming play, “54: All Together Equal,” their ideas and struggles made their play come alive.
In just 20 days, 12 Temple students from Insomnia Theater company created their Philly Fringe show about inequality in the world based on their experiences, stories and prejudices.
“We focus on every group who has been discriminated against while trying to achieve that all-too-familiar American Dream,” said director Kevin Stackhouse, a junior theater major.
Stackhouse, the mastermind behind the play, originally planned for the piece to be a rock musical.
“[The actors’] real-life stories had much more importance and soul to them,” he said, “and they are all based on fact.”
Insomnia Theater assembled with the hope of sharing its talent and messages with Philadelphia. This was all, in part, due to Stackhouse. Everyone in the production either knew Stackhouse personally or through a friend.
The collaboration of these friends creates a personal glimpse into the actors’ lives to create a montage of various monologues and scenes. Topics covered include gay rights, female African-American political figures, obesity and interracial relationships.
“It is more of a conversation than a performance,” Calvin Atkinson, a junior theater major, said about the show.
Insomnia Theater wants their audience to see inequality in the country as a whole.
“[Inequality] is holding us back in general. People can’t go out and do what they want to do,” said cast member Victoria Evans-Quilloin, a junior communications major.
The cast added that the United States has many difficulties because the country lacks the freedom of personal expression. They also said prejudices and discrimina
tion keep people from being themselves, as expressed in a scene in which they each write “Equality” a personal letter.
The cast members of “54: All Together Equal,” who all wrote something of their own for the play, said they are proud of the intimacy and personalization they created in developing the play.
Despite the cast members’ distinctive personalities and experiences, they all come together to impose one strong statement of love.
Stackhouse said he wants his audience to leave remembering one thing.
“It is not your physicality or what you wear that makes you unique, but your choices,” he said.
Chelsea Wargo can be reached at email@example.com.