The play is about friendship, loss, connection and regret.
Dramatic, certainly. “Peaceful” is a matter of definition.
“Mr. Maurizio” by playwright Mic Weinblatt of Minneapolis is the winning entry in the 2012 Goshen College Peace Play Contest. It will be performed Friday through Sunday in the GC Umble Center.
The cast includes GC junior Sara Klassen of Goshen, senior Becca Yoder of Lancaster, Pa., and sophomore Paul Zehr of Carthage, N.Y. The play is directed by 2012 Goshen College alumnus Phil Weaver-Stoesz.
The titular Mr. Maurizio is a diabetic man in his 70s. A social services agency has sent Santina, a 26-year-old Latina, to live with him. The play opens with Maurizio and Santina bantering back and forth.
“(Maurizio’s) very wary of her at first,” Weaver-Stoesz said.
Slowly, however, Maurizio and Santina break down many barriers and become friends. They also come to learn more about each other’s painful past.
Maurizio’s history includes the death of his young daughter and his wife. He blames himself, and doesn’t speak to the son whom he holds partly responsible, too. And Santina has regrets of her own, in part involving an abusive father.
“Mr. Maurizio” involves characters being trapped in their pasts, Weaver-Stoesz said, “and how that sort of comes back to haunt them.” It’s also a play that doesn’t offer audiences easy answers.
That’s fine with the director.
“The theme is peace, obviously, because it’s a Peace Play contest,” Weaver-Stoesz said. “And from a first glance at the play it would seem like it’s about anything but. I hope the audience would gain an understanding of some of the complexities of relationships, and how entering into relationships with people who are different from you — and relationships that are very tough to cultivate — can also be very rewarding.”
At the same time, according to Weaver-Stoesz, “Mr. Maurizio” also explores how it can be very damaging and very risky to have relationships like that. Suffice it to say there are more sides than the bright in “Mr. Maurizio.”
“I love sad plays,” Weaver-Stoesz said. “And this play’s plenty sad.”
According to GC staff, the biennial Peace Play Contest is the only contest devoted exclusively to productions about peace and peace-related issues. After “Mr. Maurizio,” the second-place play in the 2012 contest was “Seldom is Heard” by Mary Steelsmith. The honorable mention was “Stay Tuned” by 1999 Goshen College graduate Peter Eash-Scott. The winning plays were selected from more than 50 entries.
“Mr. Maurizio” playwright Weinblatt is a former school teacher and principal. He has written and performed in several short plays at the Minneapolis Fringe Festival.
If you want to go
Event: Goshen College Peace Play — “Mr. Maurizio”
Date and time: Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. (ASL interpreted)
Where: Goshen College Umble Center
Cost: Tickets are $3 and can be purchased at the door