The lights flashed as a distraught teenage boy slowly entered the stage with a look of distress and concern. He rummaged through his small, New York studio apartment, while he enjoyed the last few minutes of quiet before the others returned and the emotions were heightened.

Last week from September 8–13, JMU’s theatre program put on the play “Bad Jews Tell Jokes,” written by Joshua Harmon. The production was directed by Dillon Stewart, a senior musical theatre major.

The entire plot revolves around three cousins arguing over a necklace that belonged to their deceased grandfather, that they all believe they deserve.

The cast consisted of four actors and 11 stage crew. These 15 individuals have been rehearsing since August 22, a two-week, five-day process. At the beginning of the 2016 spring semester, Stewart had to present his idea to the theatre faculty and gain approval.

“This was a huge learning experience for me being in the director’s chair,” Stewart said. “It was the first opportunity I have had where I was leading the entire production.”

Stewart mentioned that this wasn’t an easy job and putting it on took a larger amount of time and energy than he had previously expected.

“I assumed that when the show got passed these things would kind of magically fall into place but I had to do everything myself and put it all together from scratch,” Stewart said.

Junior theatre and media arts and design double major Cullen Herter, originally played one of the main characters, Liam, until he came down with an unexpected sickness. 

“I was really proud of the work my friends put into this show,” Herter said. “Watching the performance was such a bittersweet moment — I wish I was able to perform, but it was incredible seeing the final product. I fell in love with the show all over again.”

Stewart was proud of his hard work but was uneasy about the minor imperfections, once he put that idea of perfection behind him he could truly appreciate the play for all it was.

“When you’re trying to put on a piece of work you start with this vision about what your final product is going to look like, it’s a perfect image but it’s really impossible to reach that,” Stewart said.

Despite the play not being as “perfect” as Stewart had hoped, he was still pleased with the final product and enjoyed watching it all come together in the end. 

“It’s very interesting and liberating because you go into the process and realize that all you can do is work the best you can,” Stewart said.

Sophomore chemistry major Katie Allen had nothing but positive things to say about the production after seeing it on Monday evening in the studio theater.

“The overall atmosphere of the play was very welcoming and suspenseful, I thought it was so cool how we were so close to the actors and all the action,” Allen said.

The actors didn’t utter a line that didn’t have the audience engaged, the smaller studio theater created a very intimate atmosphere.

“Before coming to the play, I honestly didn’t know what to expect but it turned out to be really good and I enjoyed it immensely,” Allen said.

The play took a lot of effort and dedication but the theater was filled all four nights and the laughs echoed throughout Forbes.

“I am just very honored, it’s such a cheesy thing to say but I am so grateful for the team I have been working with, I couldn’t have done it without them,” Stewart said. “I had a vision for the show but it took their hard work to actually pull it off.”

Contact Natalie Lavery at laveryna@dukes.jmu.edu.