The Maine Masque production of “Montgomery v. The People of the United States” premiered in Hauck Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on March 24. The student-led production, supported by the University of Maine’s School of Performing Arts, had additional showtimes held on March 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m and on March 27 at 2 p.m.
“Montgomery v. The People of the United States” was written by UMaine student Connor Bolduc and directed by UMaine student Karissa Mierzejewski.
Actors starring in the production include Haley Connor as Montgomery Madison, Katie Luck as Quinn Higgins, Wyatt Sykes as Alex Sylvester and Matin Guarnieri as Taylor Johnson.
Other notable performers include Isabelle Olson as Elizabeth Fitzpatrick-Madison, David Olski as Hugo Madison and Lincoln Hawthorn, Emily Voight as Claire Madiason, William Bickford as Avery, Clare Capuzzi as Riley and Jaron Durkee as Jordan.
The production is a gender-fluid, modern take on what Socrates’ life would be like in the 21st century.
The production follows Madison’s life from high school through late adulthood. Over the course of Madison’s life, they find themself in several morally conflicting situations, throwing them feet-first into several debates and drawing clear boundaries of what is right and what is wrong. As their life progresses and becomes increasingly more complicated, the line of what is right and wrong becomes blurred.
“The play features several adaptations of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s Socratic dialogues,” Bolduc said. “The show is designed to create conversation, as it is also my intent for the show to be accessible to those who may not have been able to study philosophy before.”
As intended, the play can be followed along easily and enjoyed by individuals who do not have a background in philosophy, although having some background knowledge in philosophy may contribute to a deeper understanding of the story.
Bolduc is a fourth-year philosophy and theater student and a member of the Honors College at UMaine. Throughout his time at the university, Bolduc has remained involved in the School of Performing Arts and has participated in several productions including “Woods,” “Rumors” and “Twelfth Night.” Following his graduation, Bolduc plans on heading to Boston to continue gaining experience before continuing his education in theater.
Karissa Mierzejewski is a fourth-year student at UMaine. She said in her Director’s Note that she’s fortunate to have had the opportunity to direct this production after her time at UMaine was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The play used gender neutral pronouns for the characters throughout the play.
“The script is written with gender-neutral pronouns to allow the freedom to cast whichever [actor] fits the role best,” Mierzejewski said. “It was incredible being able to cast more on talent than character descriptions and perimeters. The dynamics of having a script with gender with gender-neutral characters lead to seemingly endless possibilities to interpret and stage the material.”
From the perspective of an audience member, it is evident that the actors connected personally with the characters they were portraying. Perhaps leaving gender roles and expectations as a thing of the past was key to finding the core of the characters in the play. Taking away more superficial and redundant qualities of the characters allows the audience to see the characters as how they are truly meant to be understood and allows the performers to connect with their roles as they saw fit.
Along with making the play a gender-neutral performance, the production also addressed other relevant and pressing issues in the U.S. by adapting conversations that come from Plato’s Socratic dialogues to fit topics such as racial injustices.
Anyone interested in viewing “Montgomery v. the People of the United States,” or any other performances held by UMaine’s School of Performing Arts can find out more at https://calendar.umaine.edu/organizer/school-of-performing-arts/.