About Everybody


In this modern riff on the morality play, Everyman follows Everybody (chosen from amongst the cast by lottery at each performance) as they journey through life’s greatest mystery—the meaning of living.

Land Acknowledgement

As we engage with this play called "Everybody" it cannot go without saying that we occupy and benefit from stolen land.

I would like to acknowledge that Ohio University School of Theater occupies territories that were once home to the Shawnee, Wahzhazhe (also Osage) people.

Those who were the original caretakers of our land were forcibly removed by  colonizers, funded by the US government and profiting from  slavery.

Roberto Di Donato

Dramaturgical Note

Everybody, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a modern retelling of Everyman, a morality play written by an anonymous author in the 15th-century. In Everyman our titular character is called away by Death for an audience with God, and who in the end, is abandoned by characters that personify Fellowship, Strength, Wisdom, and Discretion—in other words, intellect ultimately leaves him with nothing, and he must come to God with only his good deeds. Written on the heels of the Black Plague, Everyman embraces the notion all were far too familiar with at the time, death will take everyone, and so you better have your soul right. The overall form of a morality play structures cyclical Christian time, and pits our protagonist against their own vices leading to a cathartic resolution of repentance, outward learning, and most importantly, love of God. 

So, five-hundred years—a Renaissance, an Age of Enlightenment, a shift to open ended homogenous time, a new plague, and eternal streams of social media later, why retell this story? Everybody is a reminder of the frail nature of our existence but refocuses love towards the self. Still pulled from life by Death, and searching for what they can take with them, Everybody seeks companionship within a cast of allegorical characters; Friendship, Cousin, Stuff, and others—each designed to represent and investigate contemporary principles. While the overall story might sound like Everyman, Everybody is not a morality play, but rather a comment on the ways we experience death, and the modern values we choose to believe eternal.  

Two years into a pandemic that has taken the lives of eight-hundred thousand people—videos streaming the senseless murders of black and brown bodies, and the conflated sense that our brands, and online lives could be cancelled, are all reflections of the deaths we suffer day-to-day. In a world that believes an amount of social media followers constitutes meaningful connections, and the number of things we own are somehow equal to the sum of life itself, we must remember in the end we can’t take any of it with us. Everybody posits that in those final moments where we are left with nothing but our thoughts, the questions may not be about God at all, but instead about how much we love others, by how much they love us in return, and most importantly, by how much we love ourselves. 

Klae Bainter, Dramaturg

MFA Playwright, 2022

Director's Note

What you are not about to see:

  • Pretty theater
  • Feel-good art
  • Sentimentality on stage
  • A love story

Point blank, this production is not about me, so I naturally found starting to write this note to you all—about me directing this play—to be more difficult than expected. But I owe it to the creative team, the cast, my mentors, and my friends to express a few thoughts here for you all.

I wish I could say that I have been wanting to do this play for years, or ever since I applied to graduate programs, but the truth is COVID-19, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery (predicated by many others), the formation of We See You White American Theatre, the student demands for Ohio University School of Theater, the formation of Vibrancy Theater all stand between the version of myself that curated this performance you are about to watch, and the version of myself that decided to apply to graduate school in 2018. 

Those events in my life, my friends’ life, my family’s, my mentors’, lead to my excitement of directing/curating this play. 

We started our rehearsal process with meeting each other, immediately it was decided we are collaborators. This is not a situation of a director telling actors where to go and how to feel. This is not to teach anyone how to “support my idea”. This process is “tell me your idea”. My goal is to bring the future of artmaking into Ohio University’s halls. I am cheered on by faculty, they let me do this, and now they have to continue the work. 

Nick Bartleson, the amazing Stage Manager, made a good point on our first day—one that we continue to carry with us today, “This is not about being perfect. Get rid of that idea. This is an opportunity to try and fail.” I would add, building art—like this process—is an opportunity to fail and an opportunity to be held up and supported by your teammates. 

As you watch this play, I hope you can see what many people coming together looks like, feels like, sounds like, laughs like, thinks like. You are the final piece of our team.

Roberto Di Donato

MFA directing, MAA theater and production management 

Ohio University School of Theater

Welcome to the 2021-2022 OHIO Theater Season!

We are thrilled to be welcoming audiences back to live theater on the Athens campus. Having students back in the shops, studios, classrooms, and theaters feels like a rebirth after a long, difficult hiatus. We continue to navigate obstacles related to the pandemic, while simultaneously constructing new methods and practices. 

One such creation is Vibrancy Theater, a student-run theater focused on “uplifting and broadcasting the Black, Indigenous and People of Color in theatre at Ohio University and beyond.” You can support Vibrancy’s first fully staged production Absentia this fall. 

Tantrum Theater, OHIO’s professional theater, will feature two productions this season, bringing professional directors, stage managers, designers, technicians, and actors to work side-by-side with our students. Tantrum’s production of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 will be the first in the state since its Broadway run.

As an audience member and supporter, you’ll engage with new students discovering their craft and advanced students designing their thesis productions. Thank you for taking this journey with us and helping celebrate what theater does best: reflect our changing times.


Men on Boats

By Jaclyn Backhaus

Directed by Shannon R. Davis

Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. Men on Boats is the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River.

Forum Theater

October 7-9 and 12-16, 2021 at 8pm

October 16 at 2pm


Summer and Smoke

By Tennessee Williams

Directed by Sarah Elizabeth Yorke

Summer and Smoke is a simple love story of a somewhat puritanical Southern girl and an unpuritanical young doctor. Each is attracted to the other but because of their divergent attitudes toward life, each over the course of years is driven away from the other. Not until the end does the doctor realize that the girl's high idealism is ultimately right, and while she is still in love with him, it turns out that neither time nor circumstances will allow the two to come together.

Baker Theater

October 28-30 and November 4-6, 2021 at 8pm

November 6 at 2pm



By Olivia Matthews

Directed by Tanisha Lynn Pyron

After living in the secluded Florida woods with only her father and pet rabbit Robyn, 20-year-old Esther Harris dreams of being reunited with her long-lost mother. When her father kills her beloved Robyn, Esther breaks out of their cabin in search of her mother and her old life. While they soon find each other, can the abandoned and abused Esther adjust to her new life with her mother?

Forum Theater

November 18-20 and December 2-4, 2021 at 8pm

December 4, 2021 at 2pm


First Year Graduate Directors’ 10 Minute Plays

The Hahne Theater

December 1-2, 2021



By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Directed by Roberto Di Donato

In this modern riff on the morality play, Everyman follows Everybody (chosen from amongst the cast by lottery at each performance) as they journey through life’s greatest mystery—the meaning of living.

Baker Theater

February 17-19 and February 23-26, 2022 at 8pm

February 26, 2022 at 2pm


Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 

Music and Lyrics by Dave Malloy

Adapted from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Directed by Alan Patrick Kenny

Music Direction by Brent Frederick

An electropop opera based on a scandalous slice of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Young and impulsive, Natasha Rostova arrives in Moscow to await the return of her fiancé from the front lines. When she falls under the spell of the roguish Anatole, it is up to Pierre, a family friend in the middle of an existential crisis, to pick up the pieces of her shattered reputation.

Forum Theater

March 24-26 and March 30-April 2, 2022 at 8pm

April 2, 2022 at 2pm


First Year Graduate Directors’ One Act Plays

Concord Floral 

Written by Jordan Tannahill

Directed by Molly Donahue

The Motherf*** with the Hat 

Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis

Directed by Adam Zarowski

The Hahne Theater

March 25-April 2, 2021


28th Annual Seabury Quinn, Jr. Playwrights’ Festival

Two featured plays are produced in an intimate setting in rotating repertory. Other plays in progress are presented in semi-staged readings. Each performance is followed by a talkback with guest artists.

Baker Theater

April 16-23, 2022, titles and performance times TBA


Please join us for the entire season of live in-person theater. You won’t want to miss a minute!

Merri Biechler


Director, Associate Professor of Instruction

School of Theater