Helmets and shoulder pads clash under bright lights as the clock winds down during the final play before halftime. Suddenly, the loud, yet melodic sounds of a marching band resound throughout the stadium. We all recognize this as a scene that takes place at a football stadium, but what happens if you transfer that to a theater? Written by playwright Andrew Hinderaker, and performed by Boston’s Company One Theatre, “Colossal” brings together the unlikely combination of football and theatre to tell the story of Mike, a teenaged football player, who struggles with defining his own journey even if it means disappointing his father.
“This play dabbles in the impossible,” says Summer Williams, who is the director of “Colossal” and has been with Company One since its inception in 1998. “There’s the beauty and brutality of football...a half-time show, modern dance, drumming.” “Colossal” calls for quite the array of props that would challenge any company to maintain the art without being “gimmicky.” But Williams ensures that they have “all the right people in the room” to maintain authenticity, including cast members who are dancers, former football players and coaches.
The company focuses on unifying the city by engaging its artists and audiences in socially provocative performances. C1’s members are no strangers to discussions of social justice — they even have a blog containing posts about Ferguson and other top events for the civically engaged, and “Colossal” provides another opportunity to engage with social issues.
The play challenges audiences to question the way society fosters an excitingly toxic world of sports and simultaneously denies male athletes the freedom to express their own masculinity and sexuality.
“When Michael Sam came out when he was being drafted into the NFL, why was that important? What does that say about our culture?” reflects Williams.
“Ultimately, what’s happening in the play is a love story between men, and not just between two men who are going to potentially partner, but it’s also about father and son, it’s about being teammates,” she continues. “It’s about how men communicate their needs or don’t communicate their needs, and how they might physically express something when they can’t find the words they need to say."