“You are an expert on safety, but you no longer feel safe. You have just moved to a small college town to teach architecture, but you realize that your nightmares have followed you. And now, uncertainty lies around every corner.”
Egress, which will premiere in Utah at Salt Lake Acting Company next week, is described by playwrights Melissa Crespo and Sarah Saltwick as a “provocative psychological thriller” that draws the audience into the mind of a woman struggling to face her fears.
The story follows the main character, You (Reanne Acasio), an architect and professor who specializes in egress, meaning exits and safety in a building. You had a traumatic experience a year ago and moves to a small college town in Texas for a fresh start, while two other characters, Man (J.C. Ernst) and Woman (Vee Vargas), push her to make a choice that will hopefully put her traumatic stress behind her.
Director Colette Robert says You is a character that will speak to individual audience members—literally. Over half of the play’s dialogue is directly addressed to the audience.
“I hope they go on a journey with You. I hope they connect to her,” Robert says.
Crespo and Saltwick address contemporary social issues through You’s story. Robert says the play tackles the theme of gun violence as You struggles with the idea of safety and how it relates to gun ownership.
“No matter what you believe in terms of gun control, I hope you can connect to the story and potentially see a different side that you didn’t think about before,” Robert says.
Continuing their tradition of partnering with local organizations whose missions align with the themes of specific productions, Salt Lake Acting Company is partnering with the Gun Violence Protection Center of Utah for Egress.
The new play recently received its world premiere at Amphibian Stage in Dallas, and was initially presented to Utah audiences through Salt Lake Acting Company’s virtual New Play Sounding Series Festival in March 2021, directed by Robert as well.
The New Play Sounding Series Festival gave the play the legs it needed to move forward. Robert says she fell in love with the play last year, but that it has been so much better working with the play in-person and returning to live theater.
“It’s been really awesome to have a play that I already really loved and to be able to bring it to life,” Robert says. “I’m excited for audiences to come and see it.”
In-person performances for Egress will be performed in Salt Lake Acting Company’s Upstairs Theatre from Feb. 2-20. The production will then stream on SLAC Digital from Feb. 21-March 6.