Between writing, directing and producing, a show cannot come together without hard work. But when it comes to "Chemistry," a production by Arianna Geneson '14 performed in the Production Workshop Upspace this past weekend, one element proved effortless - casting.
In "Chemistry," a one-woman show in which Geneson plays herself, the actress dissects her life experiences, particularly her relationships with men. The script investigates these relationships - romantic, platonic and professional - as Geneson attempts to "find (her) own identity and shed past identity threats and stereotypes ... in order to learn to love (herself)," she said.
Geneson, who has previously acted and stage-managed at Brown, chose to put on a one-person show because this is her first time showcasing her own work.
"In a lot of ways it's easier," she said. "Trying to cast it, trying to get all of the aspects together is in some ways more stressful than just doing it yourself."
Throughout the show, Geneson communicates almost entirely through spoken word. She plays with sound, rhythm and language to form her narrative, incorporating rap-style speeches to propel the story. Occasionally singing songs and pronouncing Italian phrases influenced by the year she lived and performed in Florence, Geneson keeps the audience interested, despite the lack of other actors.
As the show follows the trajectory of Geneson's relationships, the spoken word style becomes a vital element in projecting Geneson's mood and attitude towards these different moments in her life.
In a tone that mixes power, acceptance and vengeance, her show starts with a monologue describing how she will no longer put up with being taken advantage of or used.
Afterwards she recounts snippets of various stories in which her attitude towards both men and herself vary from nostalgic and vulnerable to bitter and frustrated. At Saturday's performance, each of these shifts of tone were met with approving snaps from the audience. The show recalls light-hearted moments, such as a first kiss, but quickly moves into darker subjects, such as issues of control and maintaining an individual identity within a relationship.
The show ends with a speech in which Geneson not only accepts the difficulties and scarring nature of life and relationships, but also acknowledges that she has the inner strength to overcome future challenges. It is precisely this powerful ending that best aids the audience in understanding Geneson's message of "recovery from what other people have conditioned you to be like, recovery from trauma and learning to accept yourself."
Geneson's struggle between giving herself to men and losing her own strength and identity is made all the more powerful by the set. She performs in the all black room with her only set piece, a black box, which she alternatively jumps off and performs on, depending the tone of her speech.
The setting, rhythmic monologues, changes in tempo and outbursts of jazzy songs encourage the audience to realize that while Geneson is recounting her personal experiences, her story is one that will resonate with many college students.
"We are all young people trying to come into our own," she said.