“Interstellar surrealism”: Purple Crayon Players to produce “The Boy at the Edge of Everything” this weekend


Photo courtesy of Maddie Hughes

A scene from “The Boy at the Edge of Everything.”

Annie Xia, Reporter

Last summer, Communication senior Meghan McNeive worked as a teaching assistant at GEMS World Academy Chicago’s camps for children. McNeive described how one girl from Romania enthralled the class with folk tales full of mythical creatures.

“The kids would ask her questions, just sitting there quietly with their sandwiches,” McNeive said. “We’d get to the end of lunch, and they were uninterested in recess because she had not finished her story.”

This weekend, McNeive will take her turn telling fantastical stories as an actor in “The Boy at the Edge of Everything.”

The play will showcase twice on Feb. 18 and 19 in the Shanley Pavilion. Purple Crayon Players, a campus theatre board that focuses on theater for young audiences, produced the play.

Described by the production team as “interstellar surrealism,” the play follows twelve-year-old Simon who is exhausted by her jam-packed life. After an incredible accident involving a homemade rocket, Simon launches herself into space. On her voyage, she befriends the Boy at the Edge of Everything, a lonely being who lives at the end of the universe.

Communication senior Simran Deokule, who plays Simon, explained how much she related to this overscheduled character.

“That is me, slash every other Northwestern student to the T,” Deokule said. “She’s trying to figure out how to find moments of calm and aloneness while doing all of these million different activities.”

McNeive plays the Boy at the Edge of Everything. She said she also connected deeply with her character.

After feeling isolated during the pandemic, McNeive said she found it therapeutic to channel her experiences of loneliness into a character who has been alone for millions of years.

“This play came into my life at a really good time,” McNeive said. “I don’t know if I’ve adored a character this much where I want to give her a hug and tell her it’ll be okay.”

During Spring Quarter, the actors will revisit these characters and organize creative workshops to accompany the show. “The Boy At The Edge of Everything” will then go on tour at several schools in the Chicago area.

Director and Communication junior Rachel Mandelker expressed her excitement that children and students will be able to experience the show’s young and complex characters this weekend and next quarter.

“As much as I love Disney Channel, it’s very much not a Disney-Channel-style show.,” Mandelker said. “These characters are deep thinkers, and they’re not dumbed down in any way. I think it’s so important to show that other 12-year-olds are feeling the same way as them.”

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