“Full Ride” is an original play written and directed by St. Olaf College’s very own faculty member William Sonnega. It is set in the modern day, where social media plays an important role in our lives and the competition to get into a good college is fierce. In “Full Ride,” Sonnega explores what happens when you mix a viral video, overbearing parents and children who keep secrets. The play unfolds as a story that describes the blurred lines between reality and social media, and the importance of sustaining real relationships with the people you care most about.
The synopsis of the play centers on a modern-day family of four. Jane and David are overbearing parents who are eager for their children to get a full ride to college. Katie is the rebellious sister seeking to get a chance to play soccer on a Division I team. Hunter is the older brother who is gay and is taking his ACT for the seventh time. At first, all seems well in this family, but trouble ensues when David gets caught on film causing a scene at Katie’s soccer game. Things take a turn for the worst when the video goes viral and has a negative effect on the family dynamic.
Tara Maloney ’19 displayed excellent commitment to her character – Jane – as her quirky attitude shined through her vivid expressions. It was clear Jane held high expectations for her son to get a perfect score on the ACT as she confronted him with a frown on her face and her arms crossed over her chest. David – portrayed by Matthew Humason ’21, – was a hilarious character to watch, especially during his interactions with his daughter, Katie. When he believed Katie had been fouled during her soccer game, anger was evident in his piercing eyes and body that shook with rage. Humason’s gestures and facial expressions were often so animated that he had the audience roaring with laughter.
“A story that describes the blurred lines between reality and social media, and the importance of sustaining real relationships with the people you care about.” – Laras Kettner ’21
Kendal Otness ’21, who played Katie, and Moses Young ’22 who played Hunter, demonstrated great chemistry as siblings. It was clear to the audience that these two were not just siblings, but good friends who had to be strong underneath their parents’ suffocating presence. Otness depicted Katie as a girl who was tough and confident. This was easily seen by the audience as she dismissed Jane’s objections to her seeing Roscoe with a wave of her hand. Young must also be applauded for developing his character, Hunter, beautifully throughout the play. In the beginning, Hunter had all the qualities of a perfect son, but, by the end, he rebelled against his controlling parents.
Aidan Schoff ’21 had great comedic timing as Roscoe. His interactions with the rest of the ensemble were often hilariously awkward, and he was truly the boy who would be a parent’s worst nightmare. Finally, Juliet Morrison ’21 (Jasmine) and Jordan Tarango ’19 (Buddy) played a very believable couple. They both reacted well to each other as they laughed over David’s viral video.
To highlight the important presence of social media, the set of the play had three TV screens hanging haphazardly from the ceiling. On these screens the audience could see the activity that occurred while the characters were on their phones. This added a delightful element to the play as they even showed the actual viral video of David that caused so much conflict. The location of the show, Haugen Theatre, forced some actors to turn their backs to the audience, making it difficult to see their facial expressions. However, the small space of Haugen Theatre also provided an intimate experience between the audience and actors.
The St. Olaf College Theater Department’s enjoyable production of “Full Ride” highlights the impact social media has on our lives. It caused the audience to appreciate the personal relationships between people which can only take place in real life.