In 2017, Madeleine Gray ’20 conceived a solo performance piece in which she could combat stereotypes of mental illness and explore the question “Who, in the end, is really there for us?” “I felt extremely frustrated with the representations of physical and mental health that I encountered both in my personal life and in the social spaces that surrounded me,” says Gray. Over the next two years, Gray reworked her initial idea into her senior thesis: an original two-act mini-musical titled “There for You,” which debuts at The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts November 7–9, 2019.
“There for You,” written by Gray and co-directed by Julia Smith ’21 and Cole Romero ‘22, tells the story of a recently single pregnant woman named Anne Green, played by Gray, who forges a friendship with Katie, a Planned Parenthood nurse played by Faith Slaughter ‘20.
“It’s a play about human connection; about pain and the weight we carry that no one else sees; and about finding a way to keep breathing through it all,” says Gray.
With additional performances by Khalfani Louis ’20 and Andrew Aman ‘23, the musical works with codified language to explore Anne and Katie’s personal and romantic relationships from various perspectives, depicting the ways in which interpersonal relationships grow and change in real life.
“‘There for You’ is an invitation to reflect on the way we speak to others, to question our presumptions, and to extend the benefit of the doubt in emotionally charged situations,” says Gray.
“There For You” is produced as part of the Black Box Exploration Series at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. Performances are on Thursday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, November 8, at 5:00 p.m.; and Saturday, November 9, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Schwartz Center’s Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $7 at schwartztickets.com or the Schwartz Center box office, 1:00–8:00 p.m., Monday–Saturday. The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts is located at 430 College Avenue in Ithaca.
Bryan Hagelin '20 is a communications assistant in the Department of Performing and Media Arts.