Project NU: For Us, By Us, About Us

We all have one thing in common: in some way or another, we are part of Northwestern.

However, our stories sure are different from that of our peers. Sometimes our purple experience exceeds our expectations, and sometimes it’s an obstacle course we weren’t prepared for. No matter your side of the story, you’ll likely see yourself reflected in Project NU’s Where the Water Meets the Rocks, the only play on campus made for, by, and about Northwestern students. The production sponsored by Spectrum Theater, will be happening on May 17, 18, and 19 at Shanley Pavilion.

 The event is being held on three different dates

The event is being held on three different dates

The third annual Project NU is a year-long process that started in spring of 2017 when the director, producer, and head writer were selected for the 2018 show. In the fall, a team of writers ventured into the Northwestern community to conduct around 60 in-depth interviews about individual and collective experiences. The student’s stories, perspectives and commentaries on the issues that affect the university and the community were then transformed into a relatable, coherent and funny narrative that would make the audience reflect about the problems while having fun.

Zoe Johnson, this year’s head writer explained what to expect from the play: “It’s by no means going to be a comprehensive look at Northwestern ... it’s not going to be representative of every single thing about the school, but it’s a broad snapshot.”

The production will have seven contrasting characters that are trying to figure out their place in this purple house without a roadmap. The script intertwines the character’s lives in clever and humorous ways. Some of the main topics include class and inequality, low income and first generation students, queerness and its relationship with faith, eating disorders, Greek culture, relationships and connection, and magical Northwestern moments. Johnson believes that some of these issues are well known by the community, but aren’t part of a broader campus conversation.

Similarly, Shane Eichstaedt, the director of the play, conveyed the reasons why we should take time off of our busy agendas to come watch this production. “We are hoping that we tell your stories,” she said. “I can almost guarantee that there is a moment of honest-to-God truth for every student here, in this play, and I don’t know what it is for everyone, but people should come see it because it’s true, and it’s real, and it’s now, and it’s us… and it’s free”   

She described being the director of this play as an unsettling, scary and exhilarating experience, saying,  “I have been trying to check consistently with the room by asking three questions, Are we having fun? Are we proud of what we are doing? Are we proud of how we are doing? And i think that after 5 long weeks of rehearsing every night with these people, I can definitively say we have fun, we are proud of what we did, and we are proud of how we did it.”

Project NU is sponsored and produced by Spectrum Theatre Company, which was founded in 2005 and is dedicated to empowering the greater Northwestern community by raising awareness, inspiring dialogue, and effecting change through theatrical experiences based on relevant social and political issues. In Eichstaedt’s initial address to the team, she commented “Spectrum makes theatre for social change. Not change the world kind of change, but change the way we move through the world kind of change. Change people’s mind kind of change. Change people’s outlook kind of change.”