Student written, directed, cast, and produced, this play is based on a true story that takes place in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, following the lives of high-profile agents of change.
A Word from the Playwright – Sarah Schreck
Last spring, Project Spotlight gave me a wonderful opportunity to get to know Mary Jo Kopechne and her three roommates while also becoming acquainted as myself a playwright. The opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. I was just starting to see the powers at work in the world, the good mixed with the bad; everything from the Pulse shooting to venomous social and political polarization. Learning about Mary Jo’s story, which unfolded in tandem with one of the greatest manifestations of the power of humanity, compelled me to tell the story of the power held by four very different, powerful women in 1969. Many of us may be living their story today.
A Word from the Director – Reva Stover
The Force of Gravity takes place in the 1960’s. The nation is mourning the death of President Kennedy. Activists rally in the streets for peace from wartime slaughter, progressive race relations and the freedom of choice. All the while, in a small, historically black apartment, Patricia is opening her family’s home to outsiders for the first time. Mary Jo, Rebecca, Cheryl and Patricia create a bond that nothing, not even gravity, can break. The Force of Gravity is a captivating play, which asks its audience to open their mind to the idea of safe spaces. How they can fulfill different people’s needs, and what happens to your safety when you leave.
Background & History
Welcome to Georgetown, a neighborhood in Washington DC in the late 1960’s. The period is marked by the growth and expansion of the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, and an increasingly vocal counterculture movement. While many Americans struggled to unite in a polarized environment, others worked tirelessly to show the human and American potential in the Space Race. On October 11, 1968, Apollo 7 takes to the sky, the first mission to carry a crew into space, followed by Apollo 11 in July of ’69 marking man’s first steps on the moon.
Other important individuals include Senator Ted Kennedy, the “Lion of the Senate” whose mistakes ruined his chance to pursue the Presidency. His brother, Robert F. Kennedy, was the senator of New York until his assassination on June 5th, 1968. The “Boiler Room Girls,” a group of women (including Mary Jo Kopechne), worked tirelessly during his campaign for the presidency. Shirley Chisholm, the first female African American in Congress was elected in 1968, months before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Life was in flux, whether you were an unknown citizen or a high-profile agent of change. This unstable world of the late 1960’s led to growth, change, and the world we live in today.
Sarah Schreck (Playwright) is a third-year student at UCF pursuing two majors, one in theatre studies and the other in advertising and public relations, and two minors in creative writing and performing arts administration. Her work has been produced by Project Spotlight in both their Ten-Minute Play Competitions and One Act Festivals, and is currently working as an intern with the Orlando Fringe Festival.
Reva Stover (Director) is a second year transfer student in the BFA Acting program. She appeared on UCF’s stage as Helene in the original cast of Spunk and the Harlem Literati. Some of her other credits include Joanne (Rent), Cherry Valance (The Outsiders), Motormouth Maybel (Hairspray), and Lady Marian (Robin Hood).
Alexx Walls (Stage Manager) is a Junior pursuing her Theatre Studies B.A. with a minor in Education. She is very excited for her first venture into stage management. Alexx has previously directed, acted, and participated in various technical roles. In her free time, she is a member of UCF’s chapter of the National Organization of Women and works at Unviersal Studios.
Lauren Hawley (Lighting Designer) is a junior transfer into the Theatre Design and Technology BFA. She has worked as the lighting designer for Project Spotlight for a year, designing and running lighting for the One Acts Festival, and designing the Ten Minute Play Competition in fall. She recently worked as the lighting board operator for the Theatre UCF production of Romeo and Juliet.
Darius Fletcher (Sound Designer) is a 1st year BFA Design and Technology student. Previous credits include; The Snake in the Grass (Lighting Designer), Every Christmas Story Ever Told (Sound Designer), Treasure Island (Sound Designer/ Mixing Board Operator), Wind and the Willows “Mr. Toads Wild Ride” (Sound Designer), Larceny and Old Lace (A1). He also works as an A1 for the Scottish Highland Games, a cultural festival in Winter Springs.
Jon-Paul Schaut (Artistic Director) is a junior BA Theatre Studies and Ad/PR double major. On top of being artistic director of Project Spotlight- UCF, he also is a student leadership liasion for the Florida State Thespian Festival in Tampa. Past production credits include: producer (Unbridled) and executive producer of Project Spotlight’s first 10 Minute Play Competition. Past acting credits include: Reeling (Workman), Stanley Christ (Jesus), Hipster the Musical (Hipster 5), Wolf Child: The Correction of Joseph (The Minister), and Noises Off (Frederick Fellows).
Be Boyd (Faculty Artistic Director) is a member of the Dramatist’s Guild – selected works include: We Carry the Dream (Commissioned and produced by Hangar Theatre) The Dream Keeper (Commissioned and produced at Virginia Stage Company), Mother of Civil Rights (Juneteenth Festival), A Day Without Inventions (Commissioned and produced Orlando Science Center), Shakespeare’s Greatest Loves (Commissioned by Buen Hogar Foundation) and Spunk and the Harlem Literati (produced for the Zora Neale Hurston National Festival and UCF).
Kaitlan McGahey (Cheryl) is a Junior BFA Acting Major. She was most recently seen in Theatre UCF’s production of Cloud 9 as Ellen/The Solider. Other credits include The Vagina Monologues (The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy), the one-act version of The Force of Gravity (Cheryl), The Human Laureate (The Award), Unbridled (Mae), Clue: the Musical (The Detective), Little Women (Jo), Legally Blonde: the Musical (Paulette), and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Marcy).
Victoria Eve Capdeville (Mary Jo) is a first year BFA Acting transfer from Marymount Manhattan College. A south Florida native, this is her first production in Orlando and is extremely excited to be a part of Project Spotlight and this production.
Allison Stanley (Swing) is a Junior double major in Theatre Studies and History as well as minoring in Music. She is member of the UCF University Chorus and Chamber Singers. Her previous UCF credits include Project Spotlight’s A Good Idea (Actor 5). This past summer, Allison was involved in a local production of Big River. You can also see her in several upcoming films: On This Day and Unity: 300 Days.
Lauren Searl (Rebecca) is a Sophomore BFA Acting student. She has most recently been seen in Project Spotlight’s One Act Festival in Six Over Five as The Kid. Other credits include Confessions of a Republican (Director), The Brightest of Stars (Star Girl), and The Vagina Monologues.
Paige Dawkins (Patricia) is a second-year transfer in the BFA Acting program. She recently appeared in several productions including On the Verge, Jane the Plain, and For Colored Girls at FSW Theatre in Fort Myers. She would like to thank everyone that played a part in the success of The Force of Gravity as well as her supportive family and friends. Enjoy the show!