Hipsters, apocalypse combine in student play

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Bearded, bespectacled, dark-roast sipping hipsters muddle about a coffee shop in Northeast Los Angeles. They text vigorously on their iPhones, talk philosophy and order expensive lattes. But when the apocalypse hits, this little café is the sole survivor.

Such a setting is exactly what theater major Nina Carlin (senior) envisioned before writing her original, absurdist play “When I was Sacred” last spring. Carlin showcased her play in the Hollywood Fringe Festival this past June, her first professional theater experience. The piece is a farce of a post-apocalyptic world where only extreme hipsters remain, including characters such as Tony Soprano, Freuda Kahlo and Lucifer.

“Being in an environment of a liberal arts education and having the ability to sit in a coffee shop for hours and just write — I definitely do find the irony in that when there are so many obviously more important things that could be happening,” Carlin said. “So I got the inspiration sitting in a cafe and wondering what would happen if the apocalypse happened right now and these people that I’m surrounded by are the last people on Earth.”

Everyone in the cast and crew is either a current student or an Occidental alum. The production was a collaborative and, often times, surprising experience for those who took part.

“It was a wacky environment where literally anything went — there were no strict deadlines, our script went through 5,000 rewrites, we lost cast members, we rehearsed in Nina’s living room, etc.,” Deon Summerville (junior), one of the cast members, said.

Despite having one of the youngest casts at the Fringe Festival, the play was well-received and solicited glowing reviews.

“Nina Carlin, in her cheerleader-like frame, is brave and her wild and zany misfit cast are my new theater crush. Before today I had my award winner picked, now I’m not so sure,” creator of Poor-Man Theater Company Benny Lumpkins wrote on the Hollywood Fringe Festival’s website.

After graduating from Occidental, Carlin hopes to pursue a career in playwriting. She also aspires to start her own theater company that is politically focused and plays with absurdist, farce theater.

A staged reading of “When I was Sacred” will take place in Keck Theater in the near future. There will also be a reading or a full production at a local theater, free for the public. Carlin encourages all students to come — however, she forewarns the play has “no morals to take home.”