In production by the Phoenix Players is the original, student-written and directed play Fraternal Forever. The Phoenix Players are a student theatre group that gives students who are interested in acting or working behind the scenes the chance to work on actual plays, providing valuable educational experience outside of a traditional theatre class.
The Phoenix Players advocate strongly for student-directed and student-written productions. This semester, the group continues with another student-directed work following No Exit, directed by Austin Jennings ’19 in December. Like all work produced by the Phoenix Players, it has an all-student cast and crew.
The Herald had the opportunity to meet with the writer and director of Fraternal Forever to discuss it more. Donovan Hayden ’19 is no stranger to theatre or the Phoenix Players: he was in the monologue showcase in winter 2017 and starred in the HWS Theatre mainstage production Etymology of Bird in spring 2017. He now makes his debut as a writer and director with the Phoenix Players.
Speaking with Hayden, the Herald learned that the play “is a coming-of-age drama, in which four young college men try to find and express their manhood through pledging.” Hayden has been working on the play since the summer, when he first got the idea, and began writing the script in October. The story also has larger themes and ideas about brotherhood and identity in college.
The concept of fraternity pledging may be, for some, a reality they’re currently about to engage in, while for others it may be completely foreign. There are a number of students at Hobart who are part of fraternities, which students can join after their first year. The story of Fraternal Forever is about finding one’s self and identity through trials and tribulations as well as learning about others.
The story revolves around the pledges’ effort to show off and express their manhood, proving that they are part of the fraternity. Hayden also describes Fraternal Forever as being critical of fraternities but at the same time showing the genuine highs and lows, to make it not just a critique but also an honest look at fraternities.
Fraternal Forever focuses on the alluring ideals of fraternity, such as the popularity and social benefits one gets from being a brother. Fraternal Forever explores the relationships that are created from fraternities and the bonds of being a part of the brotherhood experience. Hayden notes that it is also going to explore how the fraternity structure can be a “safe place” for pledges and college students to build real relationships, define themselves, and deal with one’s own vulnerabilities.
Hayden himself was a member of a fraternity. He told the Herald that “after leaving a fraternity, I wanted to tell a story that was critical of frat culture but also reflected the good moments and benefits that attract so many young men. There is more to fraternities than brotherhood, parties and big houses. I wanted to delve into how fraternities and masculinity are intertwined. How can the hierarchy of a fraternity become a ‘safe space’ for young men to build relationships, define themselves, and deal with their own vulnerabilities? Fraternal Forever seeks to explore that.”
The main cast of characters in Fraternal Forever is very diverse. It consists of Jack Caniff ’22, Kevin Lin ’20, Josiah Bramble ’19, Israel Oyedapo ’20, Donaldo Reyes ’21, with Leela Willie ’22 stage managing. The production also includes producers Alex Kerai ’19, Gretty Hollister ’20, and Grace Ruble ’21, with set design by Niki Russell ’19. The play will be performed in Williams Studio on March 8 and 9. Contact Gretty Hollister at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the production.