Each year, about 500 students and their families attend the seasonal play, Next to Normal, which will be shown in the University of Memphis Department of Theatre and Dance, on Oct. 1.
Next to Normal is about a family trying to hold each other together after one of the family members is diagnosed with a chronic illness.
“My play is about mental illness and drugs,” said director Swaine Kaui. “It’s about how we as a society depend on drugs to help us deal with things like depression, and how we go on long journeys to get through the darkness so we can get to the light.”
Normal is conforming to a specific standard, meaning there is a typical state or condition that is expected of something or someone. However, Kaui said that “normal” has several different meanings.
“Everyone has different opinions about what is ‘normal’ to them,” said Kaui. “Normal to some people is going to find a drug or cure for things that they just can not deal with, but in my opinion normal is facing your fears, so that they can help you make decisions, and to stop taking back roads to everything.”
Kuai also said that normal ties in with identity. He said that whatever standard you set yourself to, or whatever aspect of living you adapt now to will ultimately become who you are later.
“Really I just want my audience to understand that we are all humans, we’re going to face challenges every day, and hopefully my play will help encourage them in a way to just face the challenges head on,” Kaui said.
Justin Braun, University of Memphis senior and Next to Normal cast member agrees.
“The play itself is just so powerful and effective,” said Braun. “It’s about relationships and it teaches you about holding it together.”
Braun also said that the audience will learn important lessons about life and how important it is to keep your ties with your family alive and strong.
“For me Next to Normal was very personal,” Braun said. “After seeing the play for the first time, it moved me and it taught me about how to be that big pillar of support for my