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What Life Matters

What Life Matters by Michael Hagins 
A World Premiere Production 

Streaming Live for One Night Only:
November 18 at 8 pm 

Recorded Performances Streaming:
November 19-21 at 8 pm and November 21 at 2:00 pm 

Directed by Eric Parness  
Designed by Heather Crocker Aulenback, James McNamara, and Avory Luna '22

TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW!

What Life Matters 
by Michael Hagins 

This world premiere was commissioned by the Theatre Arts program to be performed online by our students. 

What Life Matters is the story of four young friends struggling with obstacles associated with being a person of color in America today. As they navigate relationships at work, at school, and in their personal lives, they are reminded of how their lives are intertwined with America's complicated history of racial discrimination, oppression, and violence. 

This play is intended for mature audiences ONLY. It contains politically charged ideas, descriptions of violence, and depictions of racist acts and language. 

The play is being streamed online to an audience via a Twitch page on the Westfield State University website. All actors will be performing from socially distanced locations. The play was written specifically for these performers. The writer met the actors and then wrote the play with them in mind for their particular roles.  

All those who Register for a Ticket will be sent a link on the day of performance 30 minutes prior to curtain time to the website where the performance will be streamed. 

Tickets are free. Donations are encouraged and can be made Here.

Get Tickets


What Life Matters

A play by Michael Hagins

Cast of Characters (in order of appearance)

Brittany …………………………… Zia Meyer

Alex ………………………………… Melina Garcia

Candace ………………………….. Simone Laplant

David …………………….……….. Dana Roberts

The Boss …………………………. Tucker Costello

(also plays Slave Trader, Slave Master, James Wilson, Union Colonel and Klansman)

The Teacher ……………………. Jason Zeppa

(also plays John C. Calhoun and Bull Connor)

Katherine ………………………… Amber Thetonia

Cara ………………………………… Shannon Gwozdz

Michelle ………………………….. Payson Ribaudo

Gwen ………………………………. Jessica Choiniere

(also plays Northerner)

Employee of Pennsylvania .. Payson Ribaudo

Employee of Georgia ……….. Amber Thetonia

Employee of New Jersey ….. Shannon Gwozdz

Karen ……………………………….. Payson Ribaudo

Kelly …………………………………. Amethyst Robinson

Director ……………………………. Shannon Gwozdz

Vocal Performances …………. Aaliyah J. Brown, Samuel Tsongilas, Derrick Harnish

Setting: Over various Zoom calls and Facetime calls in the present day

Production Team

Director ………………………………………… Eric Parness

Scenic & Costume Design …………….. Heather Crocker Aulenback

Lighting Design and Streaming …….. James McNamara

Sound Design ……………………………….. Avory Luna

Assistant Costume Design ……………. Shannon Gwozdz

Assistant Lighting Design ……………... Sam Shotz

Stage Manager ……………………………… Anna Twite

Assistant Stage Manager ………………. Sam Lodato

Props Manager …………………………….. Jennifer Hickey

Costume Shop Manager ………………. Patricia Wright

Technical Director ………………………… Mark Villani

Theatre Program Coordinator ………. Sabine Macris Klein

Scenic Technicians ……………………….. Amethyst Robinson, Kathy Scholpp, Alora Machuca, Denielle Budreau

Stitchers ……………………………………….. Amethyst Robinson, Shannon Gwozdz & Theatre Workshop

Master Electrician ………………………… Sam Shotz


Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

This production of What Life Matters is entered in the American College Theatre Festival. Professor Vana Trudeau from Cape Cod Community College and Mauricion Tafur Salgado from New York University Tisch School of the Arts will deliver the KCACTF response following the Friday evening performance on November 20. We thank them for their time.


Special Thanks

Taking the big step into virtual performance was an enormous challenge for our program and would not have been possible without the help of many people, both on and off campus. We are profoundly grateful to the following people for their support of this performance and the Theatre Arts program.

Emily Todd, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Robert Kersting, Academic Affairs
Felicia Barber, Music Department
Stephen Adams, English Department
Michelle Pescetta, Theatre Arts and Art
Chris Hirtle, Academic Technology Services
Nick Wojtowicz, Academic Information Services
Alex Simisky, Media Services
Greg Sanocki, Marketing
Jamie Caron, Marketing
Addison Plante, Marketing
Kate Burke, Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations
Andy Carluccio and Calla Renaud, Liminal Entertainment Technologies
Emmett Buhmann, Bridgewater State University
Michael Harvey, Salem State University