No Strings Attached

String makes JU history as the first student-composed piece to be performed in the theatre department


Hannah Murray

Hannah Murray, Staff Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— On Oct. 11, history will be made in the black box theater of Phillips Fine Arts Building.

Carlos Adorno, 20, is the first student in Jacksonville University history to write a play to be produced by the theater department.

Adorno, a junior at the university, says he had the inspiration to begin writing his freshman year.

“I thought about how I was going to set myself up for success,” he says. “I knew that I had to do something extra.”

Adorno says that it was while listening to the soundtrack from the Broadway musical “Hamilton” that he found his motivation to begin writing.

“I was listening to ‘Hamilton’ one day and I was just overwhelmingly inspired by how good it was,” he says. “And being a minority in theater, it was really cool to listen to this music written by this person from the same place that I’m from.”

Like Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright of “Hamilton”, Adorno is of Puerto Rican descent.

Now, as a junior, Adorno gets to see his work come to life. His play, “String”, is to be performed Oct. 11 through 13.

Adorno says that this is exciting for him, although it is still somewhat stressful.

“It just comes with all sorts of obstacles,” he says. “How do we know that this is going to work? It’s never been done before here.”

Despite the nerves, Adorno says it is powerful to have been given this opportunity.

“More than anything, it’s exciting,” he says. “Playwrights don’t get this opportunity often. Most playwright’s work never sees the light of day and if it does, they have to jump through way more hoops than I had to jump through.”

Without the support of one professor, Eric DeCicco, Adorno says he doesn’t think the play would have been possible.

“I was lucky enough to have a professor who, when he read the show, totally believed in it,” Adorno says. “He totally believed in me and my work ethic, totally believed in the possibility of success for this show. And he was able to help me in being able to take the first steps towards production, towards getting this thing on the table.”

Besides supporting the play from the beginning, DeCicco is also directing the play.

“String” is a play that chronicles the journey of a young musician, named Shakespeare, and his family. The play shows Shakespeare and his family at different stages in their life, from boyhood to young adulthood.

“It’s about love and about how to overcome difficulties in the face of being in a situation where you have less resources than others and still making the most of that,” Adorno says. “And family is the glue that holds everything together while you do that.”

Taylor Crites, the stage manager, says that being a part of the process has been an amazing experience for her.

“Getting to be here every day for rehearsal is really interesting,” Crites says. “You get to see something go from nothing to where we are now. It’s really amazing to see all the work the actors put into it and it’s really nice to see this piece come together.”

For Michael Gonzalez, who plays the role of Shakespeare in the play, the process has been transformative.

“Well, at first, I wanted to be a part of this whole theater process for fun,” he says. “But then I started to see parallels between the character of Shakespeare and myself. It just started to relate to my real life and sooner or later, I started putting myself in this character.”

Gonzalez says that being able to represent this character has opened him up in more than just his theatrical life, but his personal life as well.

“When I finished my first read through, I felt something I haven’t felt before,” he says. “My personality and emotions nowadays have been dull, but when I read this, I don’t care who you are. If you have a heart, you will feel something. And that’s something I love about this play.”

Gonzalez says he has high hopes for the play in the future.

“This is honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done—period,” he says. “And the fact that it’s a guy like Carlos who made this is incredible. This is a story that I wouldn’t be surprised if future college students start doing it at their own colleges because it’s that good.”

As for Adornos, he hopes the audience comes ready to sit back and enjoy the product of two years of work.

“It’s a show with music, with laughing, with some troughs, emotionally speaking,” he says. “But if there’s anything I would say to anyone who wants to come watch it would be to come ready to watch a fun show and ready to have a good time. Let the actors and writing take care of the rest. Come ready to chill out and to just consume a wonderful story.”

Adornos wants more than anything for the culmination of his work to be something audiences can enjoy.

“I just hope they have a damn good time.”