“The First Time I Walked on the Moon” opens in Flanagan Theater

By Mayo Sueta
suetamay@grinnell.edu

Anticipation for the show “The First Time I Walked on the Moon” has been building ever since its casting, and will finally come to fruition on its opening night this Thursday in Flanagan Theatre.

Initially, Professor Craig Quintero, theatre and dance, and director of the show, was inspired by the first time man set foot on the moon in 1969 and how it brought the whole world together. However, after going to see a screening of “I am Not Your Negro,” he decided to add another layer to the concept.

“It was sort of a similar time period going from there to now, but … so many of the issues had not been resolved,” Quintero said. “I think that the performance has turned into sort of a reflection of dream and aspiration but also … [about how] we have moved so much forward but we’re still stuck. And how do we then move forward as a nation and as a country.”

The play is unlike any other in many aspects. For example, the audience will be elevated ten feet above the stage and look down on the performance, which will feature music created by Professor John Rommereim, music, and projections by Taiwanese video designers, Ti Pei Hou and Bang Wei Cheng. Furthermore, the play has no script and the process of creating it was highly collaborative. When asked about the unique process, Quintero talked about the actors’ active roles in developing the performance.

“It’s been really amazing. [The actors] have been very integral in developing the script. So, the first day of rehearsal [we] sort of talked generally about the concept. The second day they did an introductory performance. And actually a lot of the images and some of the music that we’re using in the show was what they brought to that introductory performance. Throughout the rehearsal process, sometimes we would arrive at a scene [and] I would sort of get stuck [and I would ask them] ‘What do you think?’ Then we try and improvise and try and improvise. And so, a lot of the elements of the show were generated by the actors.”

Amaris Bates ’18, one of the cast members, agreed that the process involved a lot of improvisation and adapting as the play came along. 

“It’s been different to anything I’ve experienced before,” Bates said. “[It’s] really rewarding, I think, to see one of your ideas actually in the show or having something you thought of make it all the way, but it also becomes stressful at times just because sometimes we practice a scene for a night for three hours and then it gets cut. … [But] it’s so rewarding in the end to see everything we’ve done pay off that it definitely eliminates all of [the stress].”

Quintero also mentioned how the creative process mirrors the concept of the play.

“I think it’s part of the process but also a part of, if we really want to move forward as a nation, it’s not individuals, it’s not what one person can do, but it’s what we as a unified people can do,” Quintero said.

Quintero hopes that every audience member takes away something different from the performance and that the play inspires them to act.

“Art is interesting because it functions more like a mirror. … Hopefully, if we have 100 audience members, each person will get something slightly different based on their past, on their life. Hopefully the performance will provide a moment, a space and time for self-reflection and hopefully, then that self-reflection will lead to action.”

“The First Time I Walked on the Moon” will take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Flanagan Theatre.

From left to right: Maddie Birchfield ’19, Yufei Wang ’18, Dru Greenwood ’18 and Amaris Bates ’18 during tech week rehearsal for the show.
Photos by Helena Gruensteidl


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