In the UF School of Theatre and Dance's production of Between Riverside and Crazy, Professor of Theatre Mikell Pinkney lent his acting skill and expertise as he performed the lead role of Pops alongside students. Pinkney, who lived in New York for several years acting and directing, considers the 2014 play by Stephen Adly Guirgis incredibly timely. Pinkney believes the references to Donald Trump, Rudy Guiliani and events like police shootings make the play particularly current.
"It definitely speaks to the times that it was written in, but it seems that those times haven't moved," Pinkney said, "It's almost if we're kind of stuck. This play could've happened yesterday."
When selecting a play for the 2018 fall season, Katie Haeuser, a MFA student member of the selection committee, was immediately attracted to the Pulitzer Prize-winning play because of its artistry as well as the topics it discusses.
"It has so much in it," Haeuser said. "It tackles things like family, racism, corruption within institutions like the NYPD and how people get caught up in the crossfire of that."
The topic of family especially resonated with Sasha Cifuentes, a BFA acting student who played the role of Lulu and believed the concept of family was the theme that brought the play together.
"This is about family, essentially," she said. "There are all of these other topics, the other themes that go into play in this script, but it's about connection and working with people around you and really cherishing every moment that you have."
In order to address the diverse themes of the play, the set crew and the director, Tim Altmeyer, sought to bring an authentic New York apartment to life in the Black Box Theatre.
"Hopefully the audience will be immersed in the idea that even though we're in the middle of a subtropical environment here in Florida, we are actually on Riverside Drive," said MFA Scenic Design student Carl L. Sage.
"We wanted to evoke New York as much as possible, and I believe that the entirety of the cast and crew wants the audience to feel as if they've opened up a jewel box and looked into the life of New Yorkers," Sage said.