SDSU playwright brings new play to life

By Shaheed Shihan Columnist

“A new play is like a living organism – after its birth it continues to grow and adapt, or evolve, if you will.” That is what James Wood, a professor of theatre at SDSU, had to say about “Chameleon Love” a   story that he wrote and directed. The week before Thanksgiving and through that weekend State University Theatre showcased their second production of the year. I had the opportunity of attending on Saturday night, and I thoroughly enjoyed my two hours spent there.

The story evolves from a hospital bed where we see Aiden, a 31-year- old schoolteacher and the youngest of three siblings, lying down ill with a disease that isn’t revealed yet. Aiden’s sickness isn’t pressing but it brings up larger issues in the family dynamic that seem to have been swept underneath the rug for several decades. Although the youngest, Aiden displays the most maturity and unexpectedly ends up confronting the issues that revolve mostly around Art, his father. Throughout the play we learn of several instances of how demeaning Art had been to Shauna, Kayleigh and Aiden – his three children – while raising them. At times we also see displays of Art’s hot tempered and controlling nature as he had his wife subdued all these years.

But while one may be quick to judge Art as the villain, he is not. Art himself had a troubled childhood with an alcoholic and physically abusive father. In his own attempts to raise his children to be strong he ended up abusing them – mostly mentally. Art showed affection for them the only way he knew how and while he may have been the culprit for the problems, the rest of the family is equally to blame for the continuation of this problem. It was only through Aiden’s death did the family members each learn their positions and faults.

The story seemed to resonate strongly with the audience. It was a story of family feuds that were left hanging rather than discussed, problems that were masked rather than shared and love that was left unexpressed rather than displayed. It was a strong and almost true resemblance of a culture that is present within a lot of families today – a culture that is quite unhealthy and only realized through loss. The play was an emotional roller coaster ride – from humorous and to heart-breaking. The sniffles and the standing ovation by the audience at the end are only further proof of their acknowledgement and acceptance of the message.

As James Wood states, “We all have love in us. The trick is to see through the changing disguises.”

Shaheed is majoring in mathematics. He can be reached at [email protected].