“Now I Sit Brokenhearted” turns restroom graffiti into comic sketches

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CW | Shelby Akin

Aaron Bonner

Art is everywhere, from the sculptures on Woods Quad to the plays put on by UA Theatre and Dance. One of these, “Here I Sit Brokenhearted: A Bathroom Odyssey” is making a case for a new form of art–bathroom graffiti.

The play is a musical comedy directed by Seth Panitch, a professor of acting at the university and cast member, that focuses on the crude drawings left behind by men in the bathroom.

“What I’ve done is I’ve asked my former students all across the country to send me their favorite pictures of things written on the bathroom wall and what I noticed is that they fell into a few scenes,” Panitch said. “I wrote the play around those specific ideas to try to talk about, in a comic and lighter way, why we write the things we do on the bathroom wall and what we get out of it.”

Panitch is part of a program known as The Bridge Project that trains undergraduate students for their careers by allowing them to get hands-on experience acting and traveling to perform. While some members of the cast are students, they also work alongside trained actors.

“[The Bridge Project] is a series of plays, and there’s a film in it as well, that are supported by the university that I use professionals in and I find small or larger roles for the students to play within them,” Panitch said. “It gives them real professional credit in front of professional industry people and reviewers that they can use to springboard themselves into a career.”

The play takes place solely inside of a bathroom, set up with four stalls lined with art. As well as using hand-drawn graffiti, the play will use a variety of projectors to display the art.

The play follows a variety of patrons through history as they enter and exit the stalls, leaving behind a new piece of art to be interpreted by the next person. Along the way, cast members such as Ian Andersen don new outfits and play roles from a young boy to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

“A lot of times we’re playing some version of ourselves, at least when we’re playing our core characters,” Andersen said. “There’s definitely a part of us that’s in each of these characters… The entire play runs about 65 minutes so when you’re changing between nine or ten characters over the course of 65 minutes, it’s lightning fast.”

As well as featuring a wide variety of characters, the play is also set to tackle current issues such as the bathroom bill and the current election. While the play will address deeper topics, cast members will quickly change focus to sillier topics such as a man who draws crude pictures of breasts on every bathroom stall he visits.

“I think the fact that we’re gonna be changing costumes constantly and putting on different hats, literally, is gonna draw the audience into the fun of the event.” Chip Parsons, one of the members of the cast, said. “I think one of the reasons audiences love live theater is that anything could go wrong at any moment and with a dozen different scenes in 60 minutes, we’re all walking this tightrope, and I think that aspect is really gonna appeal to audiences.”

“Here I Sit Brokenhearted” is also set to play in New York as an off-Broadway production. The cast has spent time rewriting and rehearsing the play in the Allen Bales Theater to ensure the show is ready for a larger audience.

“We’re used to working in other places, but we don’t have the same track record in traveling productions so trying to simulate a totally different theater here is very difficult because the space and technical demands are entirely different,” Panitch said.

The play will run in the Allen Bales Theater from June 14–16th at 7:30pm. The show is free to all.