The Zoo Story
A Yale University Theatre Studies Senior Project in Acting for Sean Luc Rogers
Let’s face it. We’re all really fucking lonely.
In the years since the pandemic began, Americans have reported a marked increase in feelings of extreme loneliness and isolation. We spent two years separated from our support systems, and we are still struggling to regain our footing after the fact. These feelings are not new, just more widespread. As a human population, we are the loneliest we’ve ever been, despite having more ways than we can count to communicate and connect with each other. Why is this? My theory, one inspired in part by this play, is that while we are communicating, we are not making contact. We are not connecting. We are all just screaming into the void and watching others scream back at us.
In this age of constant communication devoid of contact, I find connection in making art. Making art is a deeply vulnerable and intimate process that is entirely reliant on our ability to understand our fellow human beings, and that can be incredibly difficult to do. Through the artistic process, there are very few people with whom you find it easy to click on either a creative or personal level. So when you find someone with whom you have both, it becomes one of the most valuable relationships you can imagine. That is how I feel about Sean Luc Rogers.
When Sean got me on the phone back in 2020 to talk about his senior thesis project, I didn’t care what it was, I was going to say yes. Just one production into our now six-show relationship, I knew that we understood each other on a level that I felt with very few others. When he started describing the show and his vision for it, I was even more sold. The Zoo Story explores the extremes of isolation and miscommunication, the lengths people will go to to seek the connection with others that so many are struggling to find, and what it does to us when we fail to make those connections. Who better to embark with on such a theatrical journey than the person I would count as my artistic soulmate?
While everyone will find something that resonates with them in this story, this play itself is not for everyone. I’m gonna say that right up front. It has no hero, no villain, no obvious streamlined plot, and it may very well leave you with far more questions than it will answers. It has one location, and two people who spend the whole fifty minutes of their time together trying and failing to connect. This play will challenge you in ways you will not expect, and to speak with complete candor, I have no idea how any of you will feel when this story concludes.
Does that uncertainty unsettle you? I encourage you to sit with it. It’s only fifty minutes of your life, and at the end of it, you can forget about everything you just saw and go straight back to narratives that are more predictable, comforting, sensible, familiar. But for now, let yourself be taken into this story of loneliness, and the lengths that we as humans will go to escape it.
Let’s go to the zoo.
Photos by Melany Perez
Show Clips and/or Full Production Footage Available Upon Request
Director: Madison Cole
Producers: Lauren Marut, Soleil Singh
Stage Manager: Rivi Wijesekera
Set Designer: Mikayla Johnson
Lighting Designer: Beza Tessema
Costume Designer: Joaquin Medrano
Sound Designer: Ryan Shea
Fight Choreographer: Nathan Roberts
Head Electrician: Jeffrey Steele
Assistant Director: Meridian Monthy
Graphic Designer: Mikayla Johnson
Makeup Artist: Kara O'Rourke
Jerry: Sean Luc Rogers
Peter: Julian Hornos Kohl