Facing the Unknown: The YC's The Life to Come

By Joelle Hagen 

Set in 1918, Timothy Mason's The Life to Come tells the story of eight young students in a small Minnesota town who are preparing for a school production of Macbeth. As the students explore Shakespeare's dark and violent tragedy, they watch their world crumble and contemplate what the future holds for them in this time of war.

Artwork for A.C.T.'s Youth Conservatory production of The Life to Come.
Today, the actors in our production face a similar situation to those students in 1918. They are watching the world around them grapple with war, hate, racism, and the fear of the unknown, and while they do not have much power to change it, they are stuck with the consequences of the decisions made by the generations before them.

In rehearsals, the cast and creative team have discussed the relevance of this play in the modern world. These teenage actors find themselves caught between being too young to carry much power and responsibility and too old to ignore what is going on in this volatile time. Producing this play is a way for these students to voice their perspective.

As the stage manager for this production, it has been a blessing to watch these young adults throw themselves fully into their roles with enthusiasm, bravery, and authenticity. It further proves to me that, now more than ever, art is a necessary vehicle for communication, empathy, and education. The gift of artistic expression provides a foothold to those struggling to understand and accept our current world state and contributes to a widespread conversation about concepts too overwhelming to take on as individuals. That is the inspiration I find everyday working with students and artists of all kinds. I look forward to sharing what we've created with the public!

The Life to Come runs February 7–11 in The Rueff at A.C.T.'s Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street. It is a co-commission with His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, Scotland and A.C.T. Click here to purchase tickets through our website.

Joelle Hagen is a Stage Management Fellow at A.C.T.

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