As the lights dimmed and left the room pitch black, the audience hushed, eagerly anticipating the beginning of the show. Quickly, the performers ran to the stage, encircling a revolving platform located at the center of the theater. With a flicker of blue light and eerie music, illuminating a singular actor in the middle of the room, Andover’s production of “Anon(ymous)” began.
Held in Steinbach Theatre on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, “Anon(ymous)” is a production originally written by playwright Naomi Iizuka. A reimagining of the Greek epic poem The Odyssey, “Anon(ymous)” followed the story of a young refugee named Anon. Displaced from his home country, the main character tried to find a way back to his mother, encountering different people throughout his journey. The assistant director of the show, Emiliano Caceres Manzano ’22, chose this particular production to resemble Andover’s diverse student body and their identities.
“The show is near to my heart because it speaks to the things that I’ve grappled with during my time at Andover; questions like, ‘Where am I from?’ and what that means in all its dimensions. Andover prides itself on having Youth from Every Quarter, and the show is significant because it helps people understand what people from all of those corners are carrying,” said Manzano.
In producing the show, Manzano wanted the cast and audience to walk away conscious that “home” is built out of love and genuine human connection. To make that theme apparent in the production, he not only chose this production to convey a sense of belonging and the importance of home to its audiences, but also guided the actors to fully immerse themselves in the production and to find a sense of shared community within the script.
“One thing I would tell the actors really often was, ‘I want to make sure that you find a moment of connection.’ To make that moment more organic, oftentimes I wouldn’t tell them what exactly that moment was because I wanted them to figure it out themselves,” said Manzano.
In terms of implementing technical creativity, Mazano experimented with unique tactics to add depth to the show by choosing to have numerous cast members acting as Anon. The show was structured to have all performers on stage at the same time while including fluid, physical transitions of the character with a bag in order to establish a natural flow of the show while conveying a tight sense of togetherness to the audience.
“The goal was to be fluid—not just fluid physically, but also emotionally. I was really proud of how everyone came up with ways to hand off the bag. It’s a relatively simple gesture, but it added a lot of personality, and the cast was able to really ground themselves in where Anon was on that journey,” said Manzano.
An attendee of the show, Elizabeth Chou ’22, was also impressed by the natural transitions between the actors. While Anon stayed singular as a subject, the different qualities that each actor brought to the character made him seem more multifaceted and layered.
“It was really cool to see people really fall into the character. Every time someone passed off the bag, their entire demeanor shifted. It was really interesting to see that and how they uniquely portrayed and embodied a singular character,” said Chou.
However, Anon’s portrayal was not the only nuanced aspect of the production; performers who did not play Anon also established in-depth and compelling characterizations of the other, more minor roles. Christian Gomez ’24, the actor for side character Pascal, commented on the consideration he put into conveying the themes of home and connection in his performance of an ally who parallels the main character.
“What I really wanted to convey was the aspect of storytelling, and I wanted to make my performance as natural as it could be. I wanted to show that my character came from a very long way, and he had to overcome many challenges. And so I wanted the character to look as if he had seen something in the main character, Anon, that kind of reminded him of himself,” said Gomez.
A term-contained show, the production of “Anon(ymous)” came to an end with Saturday’s performance. Looking towards the future, Manzano believes that the diversity of talent emphasized in this production speaks for the bright future of theatre at Andover in the coming years.
“As it’s my senior year, I’m wrapping up my career here, but it was incredible seeing Juniors participate in their first show, or watch Lowers or Uppers for whom this was their first show in person. I was really proud of them seeing them get in touch with all their inner talents and potential, and I couldn’t have asked for a better cast of people to work with. They’re going to do amazing things,” said Manzano.
Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Chou ’22 is an Illustration Editor for The Phillipian.