Playwright and Teaching Artist Will Quam talks about his new play REUNION (AFTER THE END OF THE WORLD) with Education Director, Maria McConville. Find out Quam’s inspiration for this beautiful full-length drama that explores the resilience of children in the face of the unimaginable.
An Interview with Playwright Will Quam:
STAGE PARTNERS: What was the inspiration for this world and what compelled you to write this play?
WILL QUAM: In college I read Giovanni Boccacio’s The Decameron, a book of stories told by Florentine nobles as they hide from the plague in a rural villa. Boccacio uses the stories to examine and satirize the 14th century world around him. I wanted to explore what might happen if young people did the same.
I wanted to devise a play with young people and play around with what they thought might be important and difficult for them after the end of the world. What memories would sustain them? What would be too painful? What might not really change? I’ve always been impressed by the maturity young people possess when responding to crisis and wondered how they would respond.
I know that I feel like I’ve changed a lot through life and circumstances. But then when I’m back in a place I was when I was young or around people I was with when I was younger I sometimes feel like I haven’t grown at all! Or I feel even more changed than I thought I was. What must that be like when meeting a long-lost person after the end of the world?
Also? I’m terrified by the idea of the end of the world.
SP: When I was reading this play with my Teaching Artist/Director hat on, I got excited about possibly performing this piece in a site-specific location. How do you imagine this play being performed in our socially distant times?
WILL: Oh man great question. I wrote the first version of this in early 2016 with no idea that this play would feel more and more relevant as time went on. I think this play would still work well in a virtual setting and would resonate a ton in a distanced performance.
Reunion is all about connection and the struggle or failure to achieve it. I think that could be really interesting to play with in a virtual setting.
This play already uses movement and music to add theatricality. I’d be interested how directors might use the digital medium to add another level.
SP: What are you working on next? How has the pandemic effected how you devise your work?
WILL: I’m currently working on editing my play The Tragedy of Harriet Denmark, Co-Chair of the Elsinore Secondary School Theatrical Society: A Comedy for publication by Stage Partners. It’s been a lot of fun to revisit!
SP: And now, for a very important question, that has special meaning in this play, what is your favorite Knock-Knock Joke?
SP: Who's there?
WILL: Interrupting Cow.
SP: Interrupting Cow wh—
About the Play:
By Will Quam
After The Event wiped out civilization as we know it, a group of students walled themselves in their former school to build a new society, free from the past. But when a group of outside kids comes looking for something buried in the school, the past and present reunite in a play about memory, loss, and what it means to be a kid in extraordinary circumstances.
Full-length, 75 minutes. 14 actors.
Will Quam is a playwright and director based in Chicago. His plays for young performers have been commissioned by Northlight Theatre, Mudlark Theater, and St. Athanasius School. He teaches theatre across Chicagoland for Writers Theatre, Mudlark Theater, and Northlight Theatre. He serves as the Literary Manager for the Passage Theatre in Chicago.