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PIPPIN by Madison Lindeman, Lily Jaremski, and Hassatou Diallo

Posted by on Monday, February 4, 2019 in 1010 blog posts, Analysis Essay, Blog posts, Production Review, , .

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs “Pippin” in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Pippin, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson, was Vanderbilt Off-Broadway’s 2019 mainstage production, performed January 17-19 in Ingram Hall. Pippin tells the story of a young man considering suicide as he searches for meaning and fulfillment. He is joined in his quest by a troupe of players led by the Leading Player, representing the voices in his head, who will help him decide whether or not to kill himself. The players present Pippin several opportunities to find a completely fulfilling life, but they are all designed to not fully satisfy him and push him toward what the Leading Player thinks to be the most extraordinary and satisfying option – suicide, which the Leading Player refers to as the spectacular finale of the show. Numerous references in the show demonstrate that this particular character of Pippin is not the first or the only one, and that the “players” and voices in his head are playing roles they have played many times with many similarly unsatisfied people.

Madison, Lily, and Hassatou met in the drafting room of Neely Auditorium on one of the first sunny days of 2019, with light noise from light hang and focus in the background.

  • Madison Lindeman is a senior majoring in Political Science and Medicine, Health, and Society, with a minor in Economics. She served as the production manager for Pippin and is currently the assistant stage manager for VUTheatre’s Twelfth Night.
  • Lily Jaremski is a sophomore majoring in Medicine, Health and Society and minoring in Sociology and Theatre. She served as one of the Assistant Stage Managers for Pippin. Currently, she is working on rehearsing for Cafe con Leche and trying to learn Swedish.
  • Hassatou Diallo is a first-year majoring in Medicine, Health and Society and minoring in French and Political Science.

ML: What did you guys notice first about the musical?

LJ: I had an interesting interaction with the show because the first thing I found out about Pippin was the director’s specific vision for this production, so from the beginning I’ve been able to approach the show knowing how we wanted it to come across. So my experience with the show is a lot different from someone who came into Pippin not knowing what they were getting themselves into.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Maya Hardrick (Leading Player) performs in VOB’s “Pippin” on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

ML: And Hassatou, you came in not knowing anything about the show, so what did you notice? What was your first impression?

HD: I think the first thing I noticed was Pippin’s shirt. His shirt had the letter “P” and it reminded me of Superman and brought up this idea of him being a hero. It felt to cool to relate to him as a young person, so it made me think that if he’s a hero, then there’s others just like him. And I also noticed that all the background players were wearing all black, and it seems like they’re all shadows. So you see them, but then you really don’t.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Noah Knox (Pippin) performs in VOB’s “Pippin” on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

ML: The costume choice from the get go makes you think that Pippin is different, and really not quite with all these other twenty people around him, and there’s just something dark and very eerie about him surrounded by these dark figures in black.

LJ: It also helps and identifies to the audience that with this specific costume choice you realize “this is the person who I will be following.”

ML: And rooting for, as you said, with the superhero imagery, you want him to succeed in whatever he’s trying to do.

LJ: He is an underdog figure, an almost American figure, in that everything he tries to do he keeps failing and he’s inexperienced, and the audience still wants him to be at least happy, if not successful.

ML: It’s almost as though he’s searching for that quintessential “American Dream,” whether we’re talking about him going to war, which is idealized in American society, or trying to find the perfect nuclear family, all these things that society has built up to be the ultimate dream.

LJ, laughing: Being a sex machine!

ML, also laughing: I mean yeah! We do idealize sex in society, and he doesn’t find it fulfilling!

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs “Pippin” in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

HD: It was really impactful to show how complex Pippin’s relationship with his father is. Sometimes Charlemagne is really endearing, but then sometimes he’s super demanding. When I was looking around the audience, there were people shaking their heads like they were agreeing, like they know or know of someone who’s just like that, who’s authoritative or loving depending on the situation. His father seems somewhat manipulative, like he only gave him affection when Pippin did what he wanted.

LJ: That’s how all of Pippin’s family members are presented. When they don’t get what they want, then they’re not very loving, for example with Louis dragging his feet across the stage, or Fastrada overdrawing her allowance again, or even Berthe, she’s acts like, “Oh, quit your whining Pippin, and go do this thing that will take us to the next scene!”

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Noah Knox (Pippin) and Foster Schwartz (Charlemagne) perform in VOB’s “Pippin” on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

ML: Family is certainly one of the most relatable human experiences, and I think most people can identify with at least one of those family members that Pippin has to be around.

HD: I thought that since Pippin is identified as this hero from the get go that he would have hubris, but he really didn’t. Because he didn’t have like a flaw that was hindering him from achieving success.

ML: But he does have a fatal flaw though, and it’s that he thinks he has to be extraordinary, and that’s what’s holding him back.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Heather MacIntyre (Featured Dancer/Chicken) performs VOB’s “Pippin” on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

LJ: This idea of being extraordinary and this “grand finale” is literally stripped away in terms of the stage coming apart and the costumes coming off and the lights going out. And when Pippin and Catherine are alone and can finally be happy. In the end, he learns from his flaw and overcomes it. So he’s not a tragic character, this Pippin has a happy ending. But it’s a tragic story in that the cycle continues.

ML: A happy ending for this Pippin, but not necessarily for the rest of the Pippins still to come. This leads us to the question of how is the community being served by this story? Why this performance now, specifically? Pippin wants to be extraordinary and has trouble trying to find meaning in his life, so what does that mean for the audience at Vanderbilt specifically?

LJ: At this institution, the people who come here are perfectionists and want to be the best, and we can’t all be the best at whatever field we go into. We’re probably going to end up letting people down if we don’t choose the right major or get into the right graduate school. We were all at the top of our class in high school and then you get here and have to cope with the idea that you’re not as special as you thought you were.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs “Pippin” in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

HD: It was really relatable, because it seems like he has inner demons, and I just thought of it as inner problems that we all have but we’re too scared to tell people about. It seemed like in every scene that the shadows were following him but no one saw it. And it seems like we can interact with people and never realize the problems that they have, the inner demons that continue to plague them.

ML: Which is very real for Vandy students, when every year we’re ranked among the happiest students in the country and yet we have a plague of mental health on this campus, where we have people who do end their lives, and students can’t even get an appointment at the UCC because the demand is overwhelming. And so Pippin universalizes that experience of having these players or inner demons that tell us that we’re not as extraordinary as we think we are. But does being extraordinary even matter then?

LJ, quoting The Incredibles: “When everyone’s super, no one will be.” Syndrome was right all along!

ML, laughing: But yeah! It’s a really good question, do we need to be special?

LJ: It’s an innate human desire to be special, but eventually everyone comes to realize that they’re not special. That’s how Pippin is suggesting you can become happy, that you realize that there’s a lot of people out there just like you, but there are things you can find in life that make you happy like unconditional love.

HD: It all goes back to unconditional love, Pippin was seeking the love he never received at home. With him not having a true motherly figure, it seems as though there is a missing piece in his life. He was searching for that missing piece – the piece to fulfill his life.

LJ: With Catherine, he was able to finally love and actively do something for someone other than himself. He was searching for his own fulfillment and finally did something that was selfless, even though he had some prompting from Catherine. He was able to do something that was outside of his comfort zone.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Bryce Palmer (Theo) and Noah Knox (Pippin) in VOB’s “Pippin” on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

ML: Maybe that’s the ultimate goal – the idea is to do something for someone else and not to find your own personal fulfillment.

LJ: Maybe they’re saying that doing something for someone else will personally fulfill people.

HD: Do you think that Pippin was actually fulfilled in the end? It seemed that in the end that his overall dream was never achieved. It seemed as though something was still missing even as the show came to an end.

LJ: The meaning could be, on the other hand, that fulfillment appears when people enjoy the moments that they have

ML: We have already discussed how Vandy students were the intended audience. How did you feel you were being drawn in as a student? How did you as an audience member participate in the production?

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Rockford, the real star of “Pippin,” backstage on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

LJ: I also have an additional question to ask: From the beginning was your skin kind of crawling or did it take like a while for you to realize that “something’s not quite right here.”

ML: We’ve both seen the show a couple times already.

(They laugh)

HD: It caught me off guard. It started off in a humorous tone and I believed that the play would be comical overall. What surprised me was that there was a slight shift, suddenly. I noticed that my friend no longer had a smile on her face but now had a shocked look. It seemed like the atmosphere of the play changed. This made me realize that our emotions do shift from happy to sad to angry in seconds. Every aspect of your life can be impacted by little things. I did not expect it to be produced like that.

ML: That’s nice to hear. That was definitely what we had hoped would happen. I sat in the audience every night and watched the audience’s reactions. They offer the gun to Pippin in the end and everyone’s face was just shocked. As the show’s producer, I’m glad that is what you experienced.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Noah Knox (Pippin) and Nicholas Smith (Head) in  VOB’s “Pippin” on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

LJ: My favorite directorial choice was during “Corner of the Sky,” Pippin runs up to people and interacts with the players and they’re all smiling. However, as soon as he turns around, they’re no longer smiling or making eye contact, and they go back to a creepy neutral.

HD: I did notice that the players were smiley and then were not. It felt like a switch flipped. It reminded me of friendships. You have people you interact with daily but during your time of need they won’t help you. Do you really have people to rely on when you need help?

ML: It seemed as though the Leading Player acts as a mentor figure for Pippin and helps motivate Pippin when no one else believed in him. But really she has this more insidious purpose.

HD: But that’s the problem. How are you going to be able to see that someone, who you rely on, is actively trying to prevent you from succeeding when for years they were the only person rooting for you? That’s the thing when you’re watching a play, you do not really think about the metaphors and allusions that appear. However, after you’re like “WOW, this play really made me think about things that I’ve never really thought about before.”

ML: My favorite production element was the projection of Noah’s face in the finale when he’s deciding whether or not to end his life. This led to people realizing that he is an actual person and not a character in a show. I cried every night watching that scene. It makes you think of Pippin, the Vanderbilt student, someone’s child.

LJ: Even backstage, I got chills seeing Pippin with a gun and he’s staring at the projections. That was a very powerful moment, especially if you have considered ending your life or known someone struggling with suicidal thoughts.

ML: I talked to Zach’s (the director’s) mom, who would cry whenever that part came up. It was such a relatable thing to her, as she has two sons, so as a parent it really impacted her.

HD: The whole play caught me off guard in a positive way. I did not think they were going to include those pictures, but doing so made you realize that Pippin is actually a real person. I think that’s what many people do not realize that there are people all around them with masks and struggles, and you will never actually know them if you don’t take the time and ask.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

Heather MacIntyre (Featured Dancer) getting ready for VOB’s “Pippin” backstage at Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

ML: That was something, as someone who was involved with the production, that I wish we had taken further. We had a page in the program that said, “If you or someone you know is considering suicide, here are places that could help.” We had discussed the idea of doing a talkback at the end of the production and bringing in someone from the Center for Student Wellbeing or the University Counseling Center to discuss why this was an important production, and I wish that we had taken that extra step to really make that happen. A lot of people left confused – a lot of the feelings were there, but some of the details were lost.

LJ: I agree. A lot of my friends who I talked to after the show understood that moment [where Pippin sees the pictures of his life] was significant, but they didn’t necessarily understand why they felt that way.

ML: Most of my friends also had trouble reaching a full resolution on their own. People I talked to had questions afterwards, and one friend even came to see it twice because she didn’t “get it” the first time. It’s not something that you can come to terms with that easily, because the floor kind of drops out from under you in that moment.

HD: What was really surprising was finding out that students were behind it, and I think that that’s important because most theatre that we see is by adults with different experiences than college students, and that’s what made it more relatable. The realization that [the actors and production team] are young like me and they’ve experienced this.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway performs "Pippin" in Ingram Hall on January 17, 2018. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

The production team for VOB’s “Pippin” gives notes after final dress rehearsal. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

ML: I totally agree with you, and I’ve actually never thought of it like that. This is a production about mental health. I think that if someone in their 40s or 50s was directing Pippin, it wouldn’t be the same show because they are more distanced from that experience of being a young person and trying to find meaning.

LJ: Or if we had done a circus theme, and had all of the acrobatics, I don’t think it would have been as meaningful. It would have become about it being a circus and lost its depth.

ML: The players would have a totally different purpose. Here, the players’ purpose is very clearly focused on Pippin and his situation, whereas if it’s a circus they would help out Pippin but their focus would be on entertaining as circus players. I’m very glad we didn’t do a circus.

HD: You were going to do a circus?

LJ: Well, this play was originally from the 70s and the 2013 revival was circus themed. We went with more of the original interpretation.

HD: What was the 70s interpretation?

ML: It is the same thing with a troupe of players, but they were not in a circus specifically. It was more like a traveling theatre troupe. But neither version did Pippin with a gun.

LJ: It’s always been with fire, so it’s more of an allusion to death. With the gun, it’s tangible, cold, and real.

ML: Also, we’re students who could not pull off having fire onstage, so there was no point in trying. [They laugh.] We had to come up with an idea to get that point across, that Pippin is looking for meaning, but be a little less subtle.

HD: It’s interesting to note that even in the original version, mental health was still central to the show. You could substitute without losing meaning.

ML: We haven’t really talked about the set, but we covered costumes and lighting a little bit…

LJ: I think that the set, props, and some of the costumes were more about the practicality in terms of taking the set apart and the functionality of creating these four main places. I think we could have done it without anything else – just the ensemble in black and Pippin in his “P” shirt – and the themes still would have come across.

ML: Someone afterwards told us the box was pointless, and to some extent it really is just a backdrop for these moments.

HD: I thought the box was kind of important. It was the four main locations where aspects of his life have been impacted.

LJ: Yeah, and it represents the four main places he was disappointed and left unfulfilled, and the players take it all away and it was all only an illusion to begin with.

ML: I like thinking of it like that because building that box caused me a lot of grief during this process.


Sound designer Jordan Couceyro backstage at VOB’s “Pippin” on January 17, 2019. Photo by Madison Lindeman.

HD: I really liked Pippin. I think the college plays I’ve seen are better than the ones in New York. Maybe those have more funding, but the college ones are more relatable.

ML: There’s definitely a passion behind this that’s absent in those big productions where they perform it ten times a week. This was something where we cast the show in September, the board was chosen last February, so some of us have been on this project for a long, long time. I was on this project for a year. You can feel the love behind it where you can’t with a Broadway show.

LJ: Even going to see a tour of Pippin versus this production, I think the feel would be different.

ML: Which when you’re trying to tell a story like this that is so deeply personal, I think you need that, or the meaning is just going to be lost.

Photos by Madison Lindeman

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13 Comments on “PIPPIN by Madison Lindeman, Lily Jaremski, and Hassatou Diallo”

The show was very intriguing to me. With play starting off with the main character who was wearing the letter “P” on his shirt. This really gathered my attention because all the focus was on him with everybody in the back ground wearing black. I liked what Hassatou was saying he was a super hero to her. That is what I got when he came on the stage. All the interactions in he had with the “players” in the show was what kept me engaged. All of them had a set way to to get this superhero to find the right path in life. That is my favorite part of the show when the “players” in background are playing with the main characters head to get him to pick the best life possible. When they gave him the gun at the end of the show my heart skipped a beat because he was fighting all of these negative temptations the whole show and now he is being controlled by these people who want to see him fail.

Jackson Winrow on February 6th, 2019 at 12:30 pm

At the performance of Pippin, I thought the opening scene in which Pippin pointed the gun at his head and contemplated shooting himself was very disturbing. My friend and I thought this was very discomforting and made us feel uneasy, which carried throughout the rest of the performance. In a strange way, this scene, followed by Maya Hardrick flailing her prop gun at the audience while introducing the context of the play, subconsciously prepared the viewer for the end of the play. Inserting jokes and humorous references to current events between these two poignant scenes effectively framed one of the main messages of this play. As pointed out in the lead essay, the struggle for self-fulfillment and satisfaction in young people’s life is framed by normal everyday activities that can seem joyous or funny. This reflects on the possible pervasiveness of the lack of/seeking of fulfillment, especially in young people who come from prestigious backgrounds. The creates pressure on young people to find their own sense of fulfillment, which may or may not be easy to find. In Pippin’s case, and maybe in the case of others in the audience, giving and helping others can be a type of fulfillment that satisfies and nourishes our spirit, which is echoed in this lead essay’s analysis.

Kevin Chen on February 6th, 2019 at 7:16 pm

I truly enjoyed reading this detailed, thoughtful dialogue between Madison, Lily, and Hassatou on Pippin. I found it especially interesting to read the contrasting opinions of those who saw the behind the scenes – Madison and Lily – and Hassatou, who had no expectations or prior knowledge of the show.

I was intrigued by Hassatou’s observation that the P on Pippin’s shirt made him out to be a hero from the start, as it mirrored the S on Superman’s shirt. And, while viewing him as a hero, she was also able to relate to him as a fellow young person. I believe that the show was particularly impactful because of how relatable Pippin was to audience members. I was impressed by Madison’s observation that each member of Pippin’s family members is different from the others, making any viewer able to see someone in Pippin’s family as one of their own “crazy family members.” Pippin is especially relatable because he is striving for perfection and greatness. He stops at nothing to reach success. This, as pointed out by Lily, is the reason this performance serves the Vanderbilt community. She said that Vanderbilt students “have to cope with the idea that you’re not as special as you thought you were.” Madison pointed out that Vanderbilt students are “ranked among the happiest students in the country and yet we have a plague of mental health on this campus.”

While watching the show, I had noticed that the cast was wearing all black. To me, as well as to Hassatou, this symbolized that they are like shadows – you can see them, and they are there, but there are not “real beings.” They are two-sided and untrustworthy: in the song “Corner of the Sky,” the people in black would smile when face-to-face with Pippin, but immediately change their demeanor once he looked away.

The moment at the end of the show when Pippin was offered a gun was extremely impactful. Vanderbilt Off-Broadway’s choice to use a gun in this scene made it, as Lily said, “tangible, cold, and real.” Because of this, the comedic relief in many parts of the show was imperative. Foster Schwartz did a great job of providing this!

While reading their dialogue, a few questions came to mind. Was there any push-back in the production team towards having a gun in the show? Was it difficult for anyone working on the production to deal with these dark themes? Or, was it therapeutic to see it come to life on stage?

Jacqueline Rhoads on February 8th, 2019 at 4:40 pm

I agree that this story is very personal to many Vanderbilt students who can empathize with a young man who keeps failing to find satisfaction in his life and that the moral of the story is that you can find peace in enjoying the time you have now. Even so, I wonder whether this oversimplifies real life. Pippin had a nice situation in the end, so its easy for him to be satisfied. What about the people still trying to find that? Of course we can enjoy the good moments and focus on them, but it’s the moments in between when things are neutral that people with mental health issues start to tear into themselves. I think Pippin highlights this as many of Pippin’s saddest moments come when he is alone and allows himself to think.

Cameron Nix on February 8th, 2019 at 6:03 pm

I agree that with a character who continually continues to fail at things the audience wanting Pippin to succeed and if he cannot succeed they at least want him to be happy. I think having a character who contemplates suicide really draws the audience’s attention and keeps the audience wondering if he would have reached out for help could he have found it. I think the audience wants best for him and wants him to have the greatest life possible, regardless of if other people in the play want him to succeed or not. The production has a lot of darkness, however I think that helped keep the audience’s attention and focus throughout the entire play.

Robert Fisher on February 10th, 2019 at 4:38 pm

Overall, i thought the play was performed really well in all aspects. They did a great job of making this relatable to college students as a whole but even more specifically to Vanderbilt students. Targeting the play the way that they did, having players symbolize the thoughts that go through someone’s head was a great way to show what was going through his head. What this did was made it relatable for people that have gone through problems like these and if you haven’t gone through mental health problems, it shows you how people that do feel. I really like the point that Madison and Lily made though about Vanderbilt students being perfectionist and how when they get here, everyone is genius and it makes you seem like you’re just an ordinary person now when you haven’t been just ordinary your whole life. I can’t relate to their point from an intellectual level but i relate to it through sports because it’s the exact same way here at Vanderbilt with our baseball team. Even if you have never contemplated suicide, I would recommend this play to everyone because it is still a powerful message. For people to see something that visually represents what someone with mental health problems is going through is special and it relays their overall theme very well.

Steven Raby on February 10th, 2019 at 5:36 pm

I agree that Pippin has many similarities to Vanderbilt students and the lives of young adults in modern society. I have often times heard our generation be called the “cafeteria generation.” This is because people are moving from job to job or from major to major trying to experience so many different things before settling on one and going with it. Just like Pippin, he is lost in not knowing his meaning of life and where he wants to be and what he wants to do. So much so that he threatens suicide, which unfortunately is also very prevalent in modern society. In the end, Pippin is filled with happiness, but for some it is difficult to see this happiness in their own lives when they are down like Pippin was. I think as a message from the story, it is important to always keep positive and ready for whatever good opportunity is coming your way.

John Augenstein on February 10th, 2019 at 9:32 pm

After seeing Pippin and reading the above review, I was able to find that I left with a lot of similar thoughts as Madison, Lindeman, Lily, and Hasstou. What I found particularly interesting was that the first thing that I noticed was similar to what Hasstou noticed. At the start of the play, I quickly recognized that Pippin’s shirt [Noah Knox] with a “P” and his baggy jeans made him stand out from the rest of the cast. The other characters were mostly wearing black while Charlemagne [Foster Swartz] wore a very showy, fancy king costume. The extreme differences in clothing made me very confused at first. It made me question what century this play was taking place in and if all of these characters came from the same or different backgrounds. I also came into this show without knowing anything about it so I think that might be part of the reason Hasstou and I noticed similar initial things. I also noticed that Madison stated “I think most people can identify with at least one of the family members.” I agree that Charlemagne was someone who I could easily identify someone with because his reaction to certain situations did really depend on the moment and I know of multiple people who this is the case for. However, I think that Pippin’s step mom, Fastrada [Sabrina Kaplan], was not like anyone who I have met before. She came off as devious, cunning, and untrustworthy. However, she was also very caring and even too loving sometimes (particularly regarding her relationship with her step son Lewis). Thus, while I found Charlemagne to be relatable as I was able to relate him to other people I know, I think that Fastrada was incredibly unique to the point where I felt like I could not connect with her character as much. I found what Lily said about how people at Vanderbilt strive to be perfectionists relates to how Pippin strives to be extraordinary particularly intriguing. Being surrounded by so many successful people really puts a lot of pressure on us. Just as the cast tried to pressure Pippin, we are often pressured by the people around us as Vanderbilt students. Thus, I found this play to be very impactful and relatable and I think it was a great decision to perform it on Vanderbilt’s campus. Additionally, I really agree with the idea that what allowed this Pippin to end up not committing suicide was his ability to recognize that love is often times more powerful than becoming extraordinary, or incredibly successful. As Vanderbilt students we often times forget the big picture and believe that we have to be successful in the moment in order to be happy in our futures. However, if we take a step back and realize that what will really make us happy in our future are the relationships we will form (as Pippin was able to realize) I think that we could create a less stressful environment on Vanderbilt’s campus. Hasstou brought up the question of “Do you think Pippin was actually fulfilled in the end?” I really think that his ability to find love with Catherine showed that he was fulfilled as he came to the realization that love is more important than success. As someone who has never seen Pippin before, I agree with Madison that “it’s not something that you can come to terms with that easily, because the floor kind of drops out from under you in the moment.” The play can be very confusing the first time someone sees it. Additionally, the opening and ending scenes where Pippin commits suicide catches the audience off guard from the very beginning of the play and leaves them caught off guard again at the end. Thus, when Madison said that one of her friends went back a second time to watch it I could easily relate to that because I also went to see it twice cause I wanted to fully understand the musical. The lead essay’s analysis of Pippin was very helpful as it helped me develop a better understanding of the musical as I was able to relate my take away of the musical with Madison, Lindeman, Lily, and Hasstou’s reactions to the story.

Gabriella Blum on February 10th, 2019 at 9:55 pm

Unlike the reviewers, I didn’t originally notice the symbolism of the players’ black costumes. The interpretation of the players as shadows following Pippin enhances their significance in persuading him. You create your own shadows and only can hide them with light. He can never truly get rid of these inner demons, but was able to cast them aside with Catherine. He has to find the light to push away the shadows. While there is certainly hope for Pippin, he is replaced at the end of the show with someone else contemplating suicide. The audience gets the sense that finding a reason to stay alive is a life-long struggle and is faced throughout society. When watching the show, I wanted to reach out and help Alexis find the light too.
Mental health is a common topic right now, especially at Vanderbilt. Every person wants to extraordinary and remembered, but we are faced with the struggle to find significance in our lives. As with all theatre, this interpretation of Pippin was shaped by those who produced and performed it. The reviewers noted that the younger production team and cast may be able to relate to the Pippin’s goal of finding meaning more than an older team. College students are still figuring out what they want to be when they “grow-up.”

Gabrielle Blackburn on February 11th, 2019 at 12:38 am

When I signed up to watch Pippin, I was not aware of what the play was about; however, after seeing the production, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by the play’s relevance to stressed out college students. College students are notoriously pressured to exceed expectations in order to prove their worth to employers or to graduate schools, and Pippin does an excellent job in depicting a possible negative side effect of this belief: depression (and to an extreme, suicide). Thus, I was glad to see that this collaborative analysis (by Madison, Lily, and Hassatou) focused more on the mental health issues touched upon by Pippin rather than the main character’s (Pippin’s) search for self-purpose – what Jackie, David, and Abby focused on in their collaborative analysis. Here, at Vanderbilt, I witness depressed moods on a daily basis as students try to balance a rigorous course schedule with a demanding social life, therefore having a play on campus show that people can still obtain a fulfilling, successful life beyond their present concrete ideas – like when Pippin discovers that living an ordinary life with Catherine, rather than an ambitious one, makes him happiest – provides hope for those currently distraught. Pippin demonstrates that happiness can be found in unexpected places. Hence, I agree with Madison, Lily, and Hassatou with their thought that more should be done on campus and with productions in order to make help more readily available (on campus and elsewhere) for those experiencing mental health related problems since people can never be sure how close into the future this unexpected event will occur.

Richard Ficek on February 11th, 2019 at 9:40 am

I agree that the audience has a legitimate buy in to Pippins character. I think that his portrayal as not being successful drives the audience to pull for his success. I think that a lot of the things that he is involved with emotionally can be relatable to people in the audience which ultimately furthers there connection to him. The production overall portrays Pippin’s character as someone who is in need of emotional and mental help which also leaves an opening for the audience to wonder what could have happened if he did in fact seek out. I think this production gives a good example of someone who worked his way through a not so happy place, and was able to overcome his problems for the betterment of his life.

Jacob Eder on February 11th, 2019 at 11:28 am

I agree with Madison and Lily’s point that the audience wanted to see Pippin succeed, as the college age audience can relate to Pippin as he seeks out fulfillment and tries to find his place in life. Even as Pippin tries and fails as king and in much of his pursuit of extraordinary life, he is persistent. As a college student who has already switched majors once, I can empathize with Pippin’s failures and persistence. I think that along with the mental health themes and Pippin overcoming his inner demons in the end made it a performance that the college audience could empathize with. I also thought Lily’s comment on finding fulfillment in the moment was very insightful as Pippin didn’t necessarily find total fulfillment in the end, but did in the moment.

Trent Hill on February 11th, 2019 at 6:00 pm

The theme of mental health was also most interesting to me. I had already seen the relevance and reasoning for this play now as Vanderbilt’s campus is uber competitive, but I hadn’t thought about the point that Hassatou made about how different the play would’ve been had it been produced by older adults. Our generation’s views on mental health seem like they are so vastly different than that of our predecessors so it really would’ve been different. My college experience has thus far been quite mentally taxing, so seeing a play dealing with mental health put on by my peers who are experiencing my same dilemmas was very cathartic.

Natalie Martinez-White on February 18th, 2019 at 4:41 pm

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