Anon(ymous) Comes to Life at Hopkins
Amidst one of the more academically strenuous times of the school year, the Hopkins Drama Association once again took on the stage for a gripping theatrical piece from November 29 -December 1 with their production of Anon(ymous), directed by Hope Hartup.
A topical and modern adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey, Anon(ymous) depicts the journey of a young refugee boy named Anon (Daniel Barber ’21) through the United States after he is separated from his mother, Nemasani (Zaryah Gordon ’19), at sea. Anon proceeds to meet a series of colorful characters, some good-hearted, some malicious, as he seeks sanctuary in an unknown world. Anon(ymous) is credited by Playscripts Inc. as a montage-like ode to the immigrant experience. Cast member Anand Choudhary ’22 commented, “The story of Anon is an eyeopening one where we see what life is like for some unfortunate people across the globe. While it’s emotional, it also teaches us that persistence and determination, two important life qualities, can lead to a better ending sometimes.”
One of the most noteworthy elements of the play is its basis on Homer’s The Odyssey: the epic poem recounting the tales of Odysseus as he embarks on his ten year journey home from Troy. Much like a modernday immigrant. Fi SchrothDouma ’19 expressed her allegiance to the historical text: “I’m a fan of The Odyssey, so this show is particularly exciting; I highly recommend that any literary nerds attend! The parallels between Odysseus’ journey and a modern refugee’s story are compelling, and there are quite a few references thrown in for the Homer fans.” Each character and location Anon encounters is based on a plot point in the original Odyssey text. For example, Helen of Troy is manifested in Helen Laius, the elitist wife of a politician, and Circes the nymph is represented by Serza, a firtatious bar owner. Even the cyclops gets a nod, through Zyclo, a maniacal and abusive butcher. Lexi Zyskowski ’20 said “When I found out the play was based on The Odyssey, I was excited to see it brought to the stage. I remember reading The Odyssey in eighth grade and it feeling so unconnected and distant. Now I feel like I understand the story better than I ever have before!”
Portraying these rich and perplexing characters proved to be a rigorous and unique challenge for many of the actors. Elizabeth Roy ’20, who played Zyclo, stated “Anon(ymous) was a great experience for me because it allowed me to play a character that was out of my normal range, and let me play more than I have before.”
Erin Ellbogen ’19 expressed similar sentiments, commenting that “[Her] character, Calista, is unmistakably American; she has a certain way of viewing the world that differs greatly from mine. Most of the play deals with exaggerated archetypes, but there are real people, good, bad, and misguided, behind each character.
It’s easy to take the characters, and the play at face value, but after spending weeks with the intent of looking deeper, I think there’s a foundation of truth that grounds them in reality. There’s a lot to learn from Anonymous’s portrayal of humanity.”
Anon(ymous) strays away from the typical experience one may expect to fnd on a routine jaunt to the theatre. Specifcally, the technical aspects of the show are highly refned. The tech crew worked closely with Hartup and technical advisor Abraham Kirby-Galen in order to nail down more advanced and numerous cues then what has been done in recent memory. From advanced scene changes to innovative sound mixing, the core team of students and faculty advisors have worked closely to ensure the consistent and precise execution of the show.
Sound designer Sam Jenkins ’19 described the intense approach taken to his position: “Anon(ymous) is unlike any other show HDA has ever done with regards to sound; with over 100 sound cues and 6 speakers placed around the audience, the sound takes you into the world of the play and covers almost the entire seventy minutes. Personally I’ve really enjoyed working with our sound specialist, JT, to design the soundtrack and make sure that the sound enhances the viewers’ experience.” Kara Amar ’19, who worked as lighting technician on the show, expressed her appreciation for the professionalism and collaboration on and off stage. She said, “Coming to the show late, I appreciate the professionalism of the cast and the dedication of Corinne Evans ’20 (Stage Manager) that allowed me to learn the show quickly, so I can do my job to the best of my ability.”
Though the running time for Anon(ymous) is only seventy-fve minutes long, the cast and crew worked hard and tirelessly for weeks, including over the Thanksgiving break, to put together the production they loved. Lady-Karen Asamoah ’19 stated her appreciation and pride: “The cast is full of great people that I loved talking to and working with. The show came together very nicely and I am happy audiences got to see it!