GCSU Theatre’s “Leveling Up” is an emotional rollercoaster about growing up

GCSU Theatre’s “Leveling Up” is an emotional rollercoaster about growing up

Georgia College & State University’s coming-of-age production, “Leveling Up,” explores the fears, hesitancy, obstacles and sometimes courageous rites-of-passage into adulthood facing today’s youth.

The production opens Wednesday, Nov. 8, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 12, in the Campus Black Box Theatre.

Written by Deborah Zoe Laufer, the play explores the stagnant lives of three roommates who graduated from college two years earlier—but still spend their time on the couch playing video games.

While transitioning into adulthood is never trouble-free, upheavals like the 2008 financial crisis and COVID-19 pandemic made jobs and opportunity particularly scarce.

“I remember that period vividly. All the work just dried up. Even the entry-level and part-time side jobs were scarce for a while,” said Director Jeremy Lee Cudd, an assistant professor of performance in Georgia College’s Department of Theatre and Dance.

“Survival mode became the new normal,” Cudd said. “These kinds of events, especially when they come at a key transitional age, can really knock the wind out of a generation.”

Video games are the primary mode-of-escape for the group, who get into a fight and then compete to see who can get ‘a real life’ first.

Their frustration and loss of inspiration—coupled with a feeling the world is working against them—creates a “heaviness” of motionlessness at the beginning that will make audiences “love watching these characters kickstart their lives, fall flat and then still improvise their way forward,” Cudd said.

Four students make up the cast. About 30 other students worked behind the scenes on stage construction, scenic painting, sound, light and make up.

“The students involved in this project, working onstage and off, are bringing a lot of heart and detailed care to the telling of this story,” Cudd said. “I’m excited for the community to experience the fruits of all their collective labor.”

“I hope audiences recognize bits of themselves in these characters and grow to care for them,” he added. “I hope student audiences, in particular, are reminded that messy, awkward mistakes are an inevitable and necessary part of our growth as humans. The potential humiliations of growing up are not theirs alone to bear. On the contrary, all are in good company. I like it when stories remind me of that.”

Stage manager and sophomore theatre major Hannah Zdancewicz of Roswell appreciates the realistic nature of the play’s characters. Everyone, especially students, will be able to identify with them and learn something about themselves, she said.

She hopes audiences will walk away realizing that change doesn’t always feel good, but that’s OK.

“These characters are not perfect, but they are human,” Zdancewicz said. “This is one of the most authentic productions I have ever been a part of.”

Sophomore Olivia Langston of Woodstock, an English major with a minor in theatre, plays Jeanie. Her character studied psychology and has a passion for helping children. It’s been challenging to play someone so much like herself, but also different.

The moral of the play, Langston said, is to live life.

“Hiding from the real world doesn’t make it any less scary,” she said, “it just makes you more scared. The best parts of life have to be lived to be cherished.”For mature audiences. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8-11 and 2 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Campus Black Box Theatre, downtown Milledgeville. General admission is $15 for adults; $10 for senior citizens, GCSU faculty, staff and non-GCSU students; and $5 for GCSU students. For tickets, visit: www.tickets.gcsu.edu.

Updated: 2023-11-06
Cindy O'Donnell
(478) 445-8668
Theatre & Dance, Department of
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