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Heart-Wrenching Student-Directed Play “Smokefall” is a Success

Heart-Wrenching Student-Directed Play “Smokefall” is a Success

Trigger warning: mentions of suicide and death.

Loyola’s Evergreen Players continued their spotlight tradition Jan. 19 through 22 with “Smokefall,” a play by Noah Haidle and directed by Alé Terrero ‘23. Selling out three of its four performances, it was a success that deeply resonated with audiences. 

“Smokefall,” which is set in 1980s Michigan, is about an abnormal family and the ways they deal with their individual traumas. In the beginning, a narrator named Footnote tells the story. Footnote analyzes the family in front of him: a pregnant mother of twin boys, a tired father, and a mute daughter. Before long, the audience is transported into the mother’s womb to see what the twins have to say about the family they are about to join. Deeply seated in whimsy, “Smokefall” aims to understand the function of a family and what it means to love. 

“The show really deals with such extremely hard topics. There’s an onstage suicide in the second act; one of the characters talks about how they attempted suicide. There’s major disillusion and unhappiness portrayed throughout the show,” Terrero said.

Victoria Sabatino ‘23, the stage manager of “Smokefall” and Terrero’s closest confidant throughout the entire process, emphasized the uniqueness of the show’s characters and family dynamics.

“I think it’s important from a family standpoint to show a more nontraditional family of having a husband who leaves, having a dad who’s sick, having a child who dies. It’s not something that’s talked about a lot, especially when you think of nontraditional families,” Sabatino said.

Terrero and Sabatino said they enjoyed seeing the audiences’ emotional reactions to the show every night. They both received passionate emails and messages from audience members after the performances regarding how much the show impacted them.

“My friend’s father ended up contacting me after the play in tears. He cried a little bit during the show, but it wasn’t until after he got home–and this was something I saw with a lot of people reaching out–as soon as they were able to really sit with what they had just seen, it was just a big flood of emotions,” Terrero said. 

Terrero saw “Smokefall” for the first time two years ago and was deeply connected to it. He said when the opportunity arose to apply to direct a show of his choice, he knew immediately that he would do “Smokefall,” which is his absolute favorite show.

“It was just a play that really really stuck with me beyond anything else. Even after two years of seeing it, I still get so emotional thinking about it,” he said.

The spotlight tradition at Loyola involves the cast and crew returning to campus one week early from winter break to rehearse. Terrero held auditions in mid-October, gave the cast all of winter break to memorize their lines, and then led rehearsals all day every day for a week straight when they returned for the spring semester, which is known as spotlight week.

All the proceeds from any show that takes place during spotlight week get donated to a charity of the director’s choosing. Terrero chose the National Alliance on Mental Illness because of their focus on educating families on mental health and assisting those with mental health issues. He also has a personal connection to the issue of mental health awareness.

 “I lost a friend not too long ago to mental health issues, he ended up taking his own life. That was really difficult, and I feel like you never expect it to happen to you until it happens to you. I feel like being able to advocate for more mental health awareness and education is a step in the right direction,” Terrero said.

Terrero and Sabatino are grateful for the cast and crew and everyone’s hard work. They hope that “Smokefall” will stick with everyone who saw it and say they are honored to have shared this story.

To keep up with the Evergreen Players’ upcoming productions, follow them on Instagram or click here to see the spring performance list. To learn more about the National Alliance on Mental Illness or to donate, visit their website

Featured Images Courtesy of Eciaus Booth.

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Heart-Wrenching Student-Directed Play “Smokefall” is a Success