NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Top Notch Theater prepares for spring

‘Good People’ will be next production for NECC

Auditions for Northern Essex Community College’s spring were held recently, and the community is already expressing excitement about the play. This year’s selection of Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire will be co-directed by N.E.C.C. theater professor Brianne Beatrice and N.E.C.C. student Christian Doyle, hosted by N.E.C.C.’s Top Notch Theater organization, and performed in the Top Notch Theater (which is on the third floor of the C-building of N.E.C.C.’s Haverhill campus) during late April and early May, according to Beatrice.

Both Beatrice and members of the Northern Essex theater community are expressing enthusiasm about Good People, a show set in South Boston that Beatrice describes as a humorous yet serious drama about race in America.

Gwynnethe Glickman and Josh Shulz, two local actors who performed in N.E.C.C.’s fall production of Stupid F*cking Bird – which was co-directed by Brianne Beatrice and local actress Sarah Durning and won the “2019 Best Ensemble Award” at the 2019 American College Theater Festival in Hyannis, Mass. – are looking forward to the spring show. Both say they trust Beatrice and enjoy her directing style, and Glickman says that she finds the show selection appealing and relatable to modern audiences. Beatrice said she is “Excited for (the) opportunity (to direct Good People).”

She stated that she is looking forward to directing it, and that the play has “been important for a long time.” “I think that this play is really relevant, and we have not done a play that asks us to think about race in a really positive and meaningful way … When I was thinking about what would be the right production and what students are interested and wanting to be a part of the theater program, this show came to mind,” she added.

When I was thinking about what would be the right production and what students are interested (in) and wanting to be a part of the theater program, this show came to mind
Theater professor Brianne Beatrice

According to Beatrice, Good People is an important choice and will likely be an impactful performance for the Northern Essex audience: “We’re not in a time where we can ignore certain issues that are happening. The more aware we are of what’s happening in our world today, especially with the president that we have, and the limitations in our country, the better.” She also said that theater is a “Great voice to express our need for equality and our need for opportunities for everyone, equally.”

But the themes in Good People are not the only matter related to the play that has the community talking. Schulz, who played Dev during the run of Stupid F*cking Bird, a role he describes as light-hearted yet very aware of the pain in the show’s storyline, says he is excited about the show because of Beatrice’s directing style.

According to Shulz, “Brianne Beatrice’s directing style is one that leaves room for personal interpretation but, at the same time, pushes actors to reach the vision that she has for the play. This allows her to better communicate the playwright’s vision and the message of the play.” “I thoroughly believe in the style that she teaches and directs in, and I believe that it worked very well … I agree with much of her philosophy and the way that she directed (Stupid F*cking Bird),” he added.

Glickman agrees: “She’s great. She’s super hands-on and really involved and really passionate about theater as a whole.” Glickman also said Beatrice “saw that (Stupid F*cking Bird) has a lot of important things to say that people need to hear,” a feature which Glickman says makes her excited about the upcoming N.E.C.C. spring production. She also said she enjoyed Beatrice’s dedication to the messages of Stupid F*cking Bird: “So even though we had, like, four people in our audience sometimes, she was like, “Who gives a f*ck? People need to hear it … This show needs to be done.””

Glickman, who played the role of Mash in Stupid F*cking Bird, a character she says is “in mourning for her life” and “unhappy,” but also “so angsty that she’s humorous,” said she is looking forward to Good People because the play is very appealing to modern audiences and less “in-your-face” than Stupid F*cking Bird.