Loyola alum Jeanne T. Arrigo is using psychology’s lessons to give her a deeper understanding of theater. Next week, she will play the character Jean in the upcoming play “Sundown, Yellow Moon” at The Raven Theatre (6157 N. Clark St.).
Making its Chicago debut Oct. 3, the play explores familial relationships and the idea of home. “Sundown, Yellow Moon,” written by Rachel Bonds and directed by Cody Estle, tells the story of twins Joey and Ray as they’re called back to the heat of their unnamed Southern hometown in the midst of a family crisis.
T. Arrigo, 53, received her M.Ed in school psychology from Loyola in 1991. She said the relationship between psychology and theater helped her in her role as an actor — the two areas “married quite well” in her mind.
“Theater, to me, is about reacting organically and naturally,” T. Arrigo said in an interview with The Phoenix.
This concept became part of her contribution to the theater world, and eventually led to her being a part of “Sundown, Yellow Moon.” T. Arrigo described her passion for the medium of theater and its unique capacity to move and challenge an audience.
“Being able to move people to think about things and experience something in an emotional and visceral way, that’s what I love,” T. Arrigo said.
“Sundown, Yellow Moon,” enhances this capacity of theater as it explores the relationship between its characters and music. A common thread of music strings together a story that navigates relationships within a family and young adulthood.
Rather than telling a story through songs, the play gives music a background role in the story. Characters listen to pre-recorded songs and some play music themselves. An audience is able to build a connection with the play’s characters as they witness their use of music to cope with their lives.
“The music is sometimes telling the story, which is what happens in a musical, [and] is sometimes just heard by a character,” T. Arrigo described.
T. Arrigo described a character sitting on their front porch learning and attempting to play an instrument. The play’s intimacy brings a certain universality to the story and the character’s experiences, according to T. Arrigo.
As a folk musician herself, T. Arrigo said she understands the importance of music and its specific and powerful effects on people and their emotions, emphasizing the “deep, deep feelings” music can reach. Featuring music and lyrics by folk-rock duo The Bengsons, “Sundown, Yellow Moon” addresses this effect of music.
With all its musical and storytelling elements, T. Arrigo summarized the play in a simplistic way.
“It’s a very quiet play,” she said. “It’s about quiet moments in our lives, and yet they are huge moments at the same time. There are huge things happening in the quietest moments of people’s lives.”
“Sundown, Yellow Moon” opens Oct. 3 at Edgewater’s Raven Theatre (6157 N. Clark St.) — a 10 minute walk from the Granville Red Line stop. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased online (www.raventheatre.com).