Circe and Nyx: student-produced play highlights themes of mental health


Actor holding a prop sword. Photo courtesy of Sequoia Good

Quincy Taylor, Staff Reporter

Forming a play that’s produced by students can be quite the challenge, yet students who envision themselves as producers and directors rose to the occasion and displayed their talents across campus, showing their audience that they do not need professionals to guide them. 

CWU student producers, Seamus C. Smith and Caelyn White, came together for this fantasy setting play that might speak to those who go through troubles and trauma.

White talked about the background of the play and how she and Smith decided to come up with producing a play.

“Circe and Nyx is a fantasy-setting play about a person who was the chosen one and saved the world, and sort of coping with life after that,” White said. “Sort of like, ‘I saved the world three years ago, and the world doesn’t need me as much anymore.’ I wrote it two years ago, and reached out to Seamus about producing it. The staged version has been in development since like July.”

In this play, a much larger focus is at hand when defining the impact that the play will have on not just the students, but the public outside of campus. White explained how she wanted to bring attention to something more than just a fantasy story.

“The play is a lot about mental illness and recovery from trauma…it also has queer people as the lead, and that is something that is always important to me in what I write and when I present,” White said.

White said they hoped to represent queerness and mental illness without needing to rely on either of these factors to do so. 

“There’s a lot of queer media that is super queer and I love that, but I have to create queer media that’s not focused on that,” White said.

White said playwriting in the theatre world is what she loves to do the most and described playwriting as learning through “practical application” and giving everyone a fair chance.

Smith and White explained that the help of students is very important when it comes to working on the project, so that there isn’t an overload on the faculty who help on the project as well.

According to Smith, 30-35 people collaborated for the project.

“I am an actor first in the program here, and I do directing as well,” Smith said. “Acting and directing is where I see my future, but when it comes to producing, I’ve loved it. You get to experience it,  directing behind the scenes and with all the designers.”

White expressed their own thoughts on the matter.

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, because I’ve had a good time doing this,” White said. “Also, just a lot of time as a playwright. … it’s been really helpful to do this and learn.”

Shyanne Sather, mother to one of the cast members, said one thing she took away from the play was the love story.

“The dragon coming out was my favorite part and how detailed it was made,” Sather said. 

According to Smith, the acting of the students glued the audience’s attention to every action in the play. He said he could tell by the looks on the entire crowd that they were into the whole play.

According to Smith, the performance was one of the best their team has done. 

“I could feel how much fun the actors were having on stage and I could see the passion during the fight sequence,” Smith said.

White said the performance went incredibly well.

“I am so proud of all the hard work our cast, director, and designers put into this production,” White said.

According to Smith, there were lots of funny moments that made the audience laugh and some really nice emotional moments where the actors made the audience walk away with tears in their eyes. 

Smith also added how it is the first time ever for multiple students to do a play like that in front of a crowd.

“[I] couldn’t be more proud of what everyone has accomplished,” Smith said.