Tuesday, January 21

Students identify with coming-of-age hardships explored in ‘Pippin’

HOOLIGAN Theatre Company's fall musical, "Pippin," is a show within a show. All characters but the titular Pippin openly portray actors messing with Pippin's life. (Kristie Hoang/Daily Bruin)

"Pippin" Directed by Elijah Green Hooligan Theatre Company Schoenberg Hall Nov. 17-19 Students FREE

Elijah Green no longer had time to watch cartoons when he entered the adult world.

But adult pressures often contribute to great artistic works, Green said. His directorial pursuit is a reimagined version of “Pippin,” a coming-of-age show about the title character grappling with adult responsibilities.

Thursday through Saturday, HOOLIGAN Theatre Company will perform its production of “Pippin,” in which Pippin, a recent graduate of the University of Padua, goes on a quest to find out what to do with his life. Like many college students, including the UCLA students involved in the show, Pippin struggles to transition from his childhood to adulthood.

“Pippin” is a show within a show. Every character in the musical, besides Pippin, is an actor playing a character. Throughout the course of the play, The Leading Player, the actors’ leader, guides Pippin through a series of occupations, such as being a king or a soldier, that each represent a different facet of life. At the end of each scene, Pippin becomes disillusioned with his occupation and moves on to another one.

The coming-of-age show was relatable to the college students because the character Pippin must find his career path. (Chelsea Zhang/Daily Bruin)

The characters in “Pippin” are self-aware, which allows the cast to break the fourth wall and be over-the-top, said Jenna Luck, a first-year political science student who plays Fastrada, Pippin’s stepmother.

The show’s premise allows its actors to explore adult life through a childlike atmosphere, said Katie Powers-Faulk, a second-year theater student who plays The Leading Player.

The Leading Player is the character that interacts with the audience the most. She is the antithesis to Pippin because while he searches for purpose, The Leading Player has a defined purpose – entertaining the audience.

“For my character, this show isn’t just a show, it’s my life,” Powers-Faulk said. “The Leading Player’s goal is to entertain.”

[Related: HOOLIGAN’s rendition of ‘Rent’ shows real people beneath AIDS stigma]

Jake Levy, the third-year theater student who plays Pippin, believes his character’s journey relates to the questions young adults face in the real world, such as determining a career, he said.

“The whole show is an allegory for the world because everyone’s searching for something meaningful in their lives, whether they think it or not,” Levy said.

Director Elijah Green, a second-year theater student, will make his directorial debut with “Pippin” and also thinks his production will resonate with audiences thematically because, like Pippin, many college students are undecided about their future.

Green said the transition from high school to college was difficult for him in the same way Pippin’s transition from college to working life is difficult. Like Pippin, Green felt overwhelmed by the real world. Green felt pressured to join resume-building theatrical projects because others were doing so.

“It’s hard to keep in mind that your path doesn’t need to be identical to everyone else’s, but knowing that has kept my head screwed on straight these past two years,” Green said.

After Pippin becomes king in the play, he soon resigns when he realizes the responsibilities of ruling. Pippin is in over his head when he becomes king, which is how many students feel when they become adults, Green said.

While “Pippin” represents a transition from childhood to adulthood, Powers-Faulk wants audiences to realize they can still maintain youthful energy in their adult lives, she said.

Powers-Faulk said entering college was the biggest transition in her life, but she never takes life too seriously in order to maintain her youthful energy. She had to overcome her perfectionist mindset and accept that learning was a part of growing up, she said. In college, she learned she couldn’t always succeed.

“Life is serious, but you never have to take it too seriously,” Powers-Faulk said. “I’ll always be a child at heart.”

[Read more: Orchestra brings harmony to HOOLIGAN’s rendition of “Pippin”]

Although the show can be interpreted on a surface level as lighthearted fun because of the characters’ witty dialogue, the theater company wants audiences to think deeper, Green said. HOOLIGAN Theatre Company hopes its production of “Pippin” will help people better understand the difficulties of entering adulthood.

“Trying to find out what you’re going to do for the rest of your life and where you’re going to be for the rest of your life is a scary and daunting question,” Levy said. “It’s very relatable to the collegiate experience.”

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