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We can all learn a thing or two from wisdom of SRJC’s ’Overcome’

You may feel that you really don’t need to listen to a bunch of Gen Z kids complaining about the effects of the pandemic on their lives, especially if you’ve spent the last year sheltering in place with one. But the students in Santa Rosa Junior College’s online production of Overcome, which opened on Friday, April 23, are smart, articulate, thoughtful and surprisingly wise, and you might just learn something if you do.

Overcome is a collection of monologues, short scenes, poems, songs and dances written and developed during the rehearsal process by SRJC students to express how they’ve overcome – or been overcome by – real life events of the last three years. During the 90-minute show, which is a combination of pre-recorded and live action accessed online with no intermission, we hear concerns about body fat, broken relationships, serious illness, Sonoma fire season, manipulative friendships, sexual orientation, lockdowns and more. But it’s not nearly as depressing as that sounds; instead, it’s frequently moving and at times surprisingly uplifting. Even when the speaker, or singer, or dancer, appears to have been defeated by a fear rather than conquering it, we see that they have learned something from it and that next time – and for these young people, there will surely be a next time – there’s a good chance they’ll win.

The online aspect of this production, often a hindrance to theatrical performance, here brings an intimacy between the performer and the viewer that makes you feel as if you are being given privileged access to the performer’s innermost thoughts. Every student is to be commended for their efforts, but particular standouts are the talented and versatile Grace Mosier, who speaks movingly to her nine-year-old self about life lessons learned in “Grow a Spine;” Norman Eisley, whose tale of “Seven Clients, Seven Days” is a sharp reminder of the importance of listening to those around us who may be in pain; the three dancers Kira Catanzaro, Gwendolyn Phair and Chinel Kremesec who physically embody the concept of overcoming in “Resilience Redefined;” and the memorable observation by Peri Zoe Yildirim-Stanley in her monologue “Lockdown” that, unlike an all too frighteningly normal lockdown at school, being locked down because of Covid “makes me feel safe.” And although many of the subjects are intensely felt, I laughed out loud at the sharply comic lines of “McBrain,” a sketch performed by Sky Hernandez-Simard, Emma LeFever and Alexx Killian which could hold its own on Saturday Night Live.

The seemingly inevitable lag at times between sound and picture was mitigated here, thanks to the delightful illustrations provided by the talented background and animations designer Amber MacLean, which was a standout in her own rights. Hats off too to the production team, for putting together a well-paced, varied and seamless production, in which it was hard to tell what was recorded live and what wasn’t.

My only regret is that these students weren’t able to hear the applause of an opening night, high-five each other backstage, and then rush outdoors to be surrounded by cheers and friends and flowers, as should have been their right. If you attend a performance, and I strongly encourage you to do so, there’s an option to leave your “applause” online. Even if, like me, you feel a little overcome, don’t leave without letting them know that you were listening – these students deserve to be heard.

Overcome, a student-created online performance directed by Reed Martin, runs from April 23 to May 2. Tickets are available at:

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