Theater

We’re Gonna Die: Yes, just not today

Jose Docen, ChazzGiovanni*, Teddy Lytle and Helena Tafuri in We’re Gonna Die at Wilbury Theatre Group; photo by Erin X. Smithers.

Wilbury Theatre Group presents the RI premiere of We’re Gonna Die by Young Jean Lee, directed by Marcel A. Mascaro. In this Obie Award-winning piece featuring just four performers – Helena Tafuri, ChazzGiovanni*, Jose Docen, and Teddy Lytle – fearless playwright Lee treats us to live music and immersive storytelling during a one-hour journey through Emotionville. The ride ultimately arrives at a place of peace in the acceptance of the fact that, eventually, we’re all gonna die.

“We’re thrilled to have resident artist Marcel A. Mascaro making their directorial debut with us on this show,” says Artistic Director Josh Short, who is also excited to bring Lee’s work back to the Wilbury. In this moving cabaret-style production, Lee shows us yet again she is not afraid to push the imaginary fringes that lead us to adventure, consolation, and everything in between.

Tafuri is the singer/storyteller. She feels each section of the performance – be it song or the spoken word—touches on some real universally human experiences we don’t often discuss. She explains, “What struck me when we started performances was how much I forget it’s a one-woman show, not only because I feel so supported by my team, but because the audience provides so much feedback since they relate and identify with the text. Due to rarely feeling alone up there, which in a play that deals with loss and loneliness, it’s everything that I can look right at the audience and say, ‘Hey, you feel this too, right? You’re not alone.’” She goes on to explain, “The play has elements of a memento mori, but we’ve peppered so much playfulness and cheekiness that I find when we say, ‘We’re gonna die,’ we’re also saying, ‘We’re gonna live while we’re here.’”

(L-R) Teddy Lytle, ChazzGiovanni*, Jose Docen and Helena Tafuri in We’re Gonna Die at Wilbury Theatre Group. Photos by Alison O’Donnell.

Tafuri also appreciated the fun ensemble put together for her by Costume Designer Jaimy Escobedo, and has the utmost respect for all she worked with on this production. “We have a wonderful set designer, Al Forgione! We were asked to bring some mementos to rehearsal and they were incorporated!” She adds, “A lot of the set dressing is peppered with personal items from the band and I – family pictures, homecoming dress, childhood toys – which I think is really special.”

Light Design by Alexander Sprague sheds the right amount of illumination on band members ChazzGiovanni* (music direction, vocals, and Soundscape), Jose Docen (guitar), and the ever-agile and versatile Teddy Lytle (bass and percussion). Together, the four delight us with their talents and perspective.

While some of the story is heartbreaking, you’re sure to leave feeling uplifted. You’ll especially love the playful audience interaction at the end! 

Wilbury Theatre Group presents We’re Gonna Die through February 12. For more information visit www.thewilburygroup.org.