IU Theater presents Everybody, a play about identity, mortality and kindness | Arts & Culture


Indiana University’s Next Production Everybody has something in it for, well, Everybody. Everybody, a play by Branden Jacob-Jenkins, addresses questions of mortality and identity, themes that make it a fitting complement to the Identity and Identification “Theme” of the College of Arts and Sciences of Indiana University. The play’s director, Lauren Diesch, sat down with WFIU Arts to talk about herself, the play, and why it’s a production worth seeing.

Everybody is about…the human struggle to come to terms with our mortality and dismantle the idea that we need to be afraid of what’s to come…it’s scary but everyone goes through it. It’s a play about life, it’s a play about death, and it’s a play that asks us to be kind,” Diesch said.

Diesch has been in theater since childhood, working in just about every position. From actress to director and even sometimes playwright, over the years she has acquired diverse and enriching experiences in theater that shape her profession today.

“My day job was to administer as Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education for a theater company that used theater to create change…I really carry that job with me. For me, storytelling in theater is best when the audience thinks of something as they leave,” Diesch said.

Diesch’s vast experience also serves as a useful tool when integrating perhaps the most challenging aspect of Jacob-Jenkins’ production: the live lottery. Before each performance, actors must participate in a live lottery, in which the actor playing the role of “Everybody” will be chosen on the spot.

“I have five very talented actors who have memorized basically two-thirds of this play, and they’ll be taken through this lottery every night…my actors love me and hate me for this process,” Diesch said with a laugh.

As difficult as it may be, lottery and all, Diesch and his cast are committed to conveying the complex message everyone holds. Diesch thinks the play is relevant to the audience and an interesting production to see.

“We live in a time where everything around us seems awful, doesn’t it? We have a war in Ukraine, we have protests, we just went through a pandemic where people lost their lives and people faced their own mortality…this piece – it really asks us to listen to ourselves, to try to be nice to each other, to try to understand each other first. It’s a piece that hopefully gets people thinking about the good deeds they do and the bad they do because we both do, and [it] encourages us to lean toward those good deeds rather than not caring about the bad,” Diesch said.

Everybody opens at the Wells-Metz Théâtre this Friday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m. Other sessions will take place on October 1 and October 4-8 at 7:30 p.m. with an additional morning at 2 p.m. on October 8. Further details can be found on the Indiana University Department of Theater website, with the option to purchase tickets directly from the website or from the IU Auditorium box office.


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