By Jacqueline Zegler

In November 2016, alumna Paige Hernandez, was approached to devise a play at this university. Hernandez, who has devising experience through her own company, B-FLY Entertainment, jumped at the opportunity. Devised works are ones that bring the cast into the creative process to tell their own story, and that is just what “Clove” does.

Hernandez began the creative process in the spring of 2017. She conducted workshops with 12 participants to better understand the important issues of today.

“I guide them through different activities and exercises and questions to really see what’s on their mind, to see what we want this show to be about,” Hernandez said.

She then went home to create what she calls “a shell of a script.” Hernandez held off on creating dialogue until the cast could input their perspectives. Then this year, she brought that script back to this university to start rehearsals, which only lasted a month. The cast spent the first two weeks creating material. They did everything from writing their own dialogue to choreographing dances.  

“In doing this, it really allows for the piece to be authentic, relatable, contemporary, fresh, with the latest jargon and the latest kind of crazes and pop culture references and that’s what I wanted,” Hernandez said. “I wanted something on a college campus that was going to be relatable.

Hernandez took each rehearsals’ material and “sewed it together to create one voice.”

The voice that came out was one that told stories about struggles with gender identity, depression and suicide. Hernandez’s goal with this devised work was to tell an authentic story that included modern language, social media and influences that are relevant to today’s culture.

Through the immersive set design and technological elements, the audience is placed right in the center of the action. The cast brings them into the story which creates a deeply moving experience.

The name of the show came from the various meanings of the word “clove.”

“We just kept coming back to accountability and collectiveness. And one of the metaphors that came up was clove, like a garlic clove and how we are all one part of a whole,” Hernandez said. “Even if you take those parts away, that clove is still strong and can still contribute.”

The show itself is one of a kind. Not only has it never been told before because it was written by the actors themselves, but it conveys issues in a way they are rarely told: straightforward and unadulterated.

“There’s a lot of firsts. There’s a transgender actor as our lead. There’s a script written entirely in preferred pronouns. There’s also Black Trans Lives Matter brought up,” Hernandez said. “We did a lot of work to make sure a lot of different people had access points and they could really see themselves represented in the show.”

“Clove” will be performed May 2 through May 6 at the Kogod Theatre at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, from the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Geoff Sheil.

Jacqueline Zegler is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at jzegler@terpmail.umd.edu.

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