Upcoming Vertigo production deals with issues of mortality


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Vertigo Productions’ fall mainstage production opens Thursday night in Shanley Pavilion. “The Queens” features two actresses portraying a pair of lionesses trapped in a cage and left to starve.

Jennifer Hepp, Reporter


Shanley Pavilion will transform into a zoo cage this weekend, where two trapped lionesses will face their looming mortality.

“The Queens,” an original play written by Communication senior Cemre Paksoy, is Vertigo Productions’ fall mainstage show. It features only two characters — a pair of lionesses — who are fighting starvation after being deserted in a cage at an abandoned zoo.

The main conflict depicts the two lionesses dealing with their looming mortality, producer Andrea Canizares-Fernandez said. One of the lionesses wants to open up about her waning days of life, while the other one is more reserved.

“It’s kind of a simple, bare-bones show,” the Communication junior said. “But it covers a lot of really deep topics and really gets people thinking.”

The play features minimalist design choices. The only props used during the performances are a dead bird and a piece of steak, Canizares-Fernandez said. The two characters are dressed in a similarly simple manner, with loose and neutral-colored fabrics.

Director Yianni Kinnas said he likes how minimalistic the play is, as it highlights the sense of dread and tension built up throughout the entire production.

The show premieres Thursday night in Shanley Pavilion.

Associate producer Chamaya Moody said she is a huge fan of plays like “The Queens,” which are staged in a single setting. This allows for the stable development of the main characters, whose minds the audience can more deeply understand and react to, she said.

“I love the concept of seeing how people unravel in that type of environment because it’s so contrary to what we as humans are drawn to and are comfortable with,” the Communication junior said.

Kinnas called the student playwright Paksoy “brilliant” and said the launch point of the play was the fact that in the wild, male lions mostly lounge while females do all of the hunting.

The two lionesses are played by actresses Ziare Paul-Emile and Amira Danan, who are both Communication sophomores.

Canizares-Fernandez said she hopes the show’s themes are relatable to people and that audience members leave the theater reflecting on the production.

Moody added she hopes the message of compassion reaches the audience.

“Compassion is a very strong theme across the different social issues the play brings up discreetly,” Moody said. “The element of compassion shows so strongly in the plot and how far that could go, especially in this situation.”

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