Closer Than We Thought Before

Closer Than We Thought Before

On Friday, November 2nd, the high school cast of 248 Miles put on a matinee for the other students and teachers, showcasing the original production written by one of our own, Andrew Geha. The play sheds light on topics worth discussing that sometimes get overlooked in the high school setting.

The play follows a girl named Mikaela (played by senior Ali Foley) as she returns to high school after attempting suicide. However, we see into the lives and stories of many other characters, some of whom don’t even interact with our young heroine, Mikaela. This variation of perspective is a result of the play’s non-linear construction. As opposed to one concrete storyline revolving around one main character, the spotlight often shifts to focus on a single character or group of characters, allowing the play to cover more common themes of high school life: academic pressure, stress, anxiety, mental health, bullying, abuse, sexuality, loss, and identity.

For example, we see multiple short interactions between Inaya and Farris (played by sophomore Alexandra Cadet and junior Brian Wang respectively) that highlight the pressure to succeed that some students feel from parents. Farris describes how he gets minimal sleep, drops art classes for advanced, time consuming courses, and overall has too much on his plate. In his soliloquy, one out of the play’s seven, Farris describes the intense academic pressure his parents put on him. They see MIT as the key to success in life and hard work with no rest as not only responsible for their happiness, but necessary for the happiness of their son. While the dynamic is written in a specific way, and while pressure comes in different degrees, the overall concept is something that affects a lot of students, making these scenes (like many of the play’s other aspects) relatable and engaging.

While it covers various aspects of high school life, one of the overarching themes of the play is that “there is always someone closer than you think.” The title itself is based off this lesson. Turner (played by senior Michael Bellion) describes to his girlfriend Edie (played by senior Olivia Lizza) “point nemo,” a point in the ocean that is the absolute farthest place on earth from civilization, one thousand miles from man in every direction. However, Alphie (played by sophomore Luke Jennings), points out that the International Space Station is only 248 miles above the Earth. Far from a simple astronomy fact, the observation nullifies the idea of “point nemo,” for when one thinks he/she is a thousand miles from all life, there are three people a little over a fifth of that distance above at all times. This concept translates into the play through different characters helping one another at times where all seems lost. Mr. Geha and the cast show us that when no options appear to be left and no one seems there to help, a solution or a friend can come when we least expect it.

248 miles works in multiple ways, making it an intense and engaging experience to watch for all ages. It deals with specific aspects of high school that many if not all students can relate too. At the same time, the general themes of hope, support, and perseverance translate into life before, during, and beyond high school.  

After the performance and the incessant rounds of applause, Camille Edwards led a talkback between the audience and the cast. It was an effective way for us all to digest the emotional and complicated piece of art we all were fortunate enough to experience. Camille and the cast helped us to solidify the plot, express our feelings, and continue to cultivate the important and necessary conversations posed in the production. Then came a lunch-and-learn the next week for students who wished to further reflect on their experiences, and organizations and clubs around the school springboarded off the production in pursuit of developing conversations around mental health.

The play itself thrilled the audience, but its most amazing aspect, perhaps, is the effect it had on the student body. Mr. Geha’s work encouraged the audience to look inward and reflect on how we go about our everyday lives; it inspired us to be better. It opened the doors to new conversations to be had, it gave views into some of the struggles our peers may be going through, and altogether, it brought us closer as a community, uniting us under a common investment in the story of 248 Miles. This piece of theatrical fiction could not have had a more real impact on the school, thanks to Mr. Geha, the theater department, stage and light crew, and the talented cast.