By Kevin Zimmerman
For many graduates, the thought of going back for one of those reunions on campus is enough to send them into a downward spiral of could’ves, should’ves and would’ves.
Playwright and LaGuardia Community College professor David Rimmer is not one of those people.
For Rimmer, those gatherings should not be about comparing job titles, summer-home locations or trophy-wife statistics, but instead are best used for rekindling relationships.
“Reunions are very important,” Rimmer said. “The connections you make at college can be very strong.”
Not long ago, Rimmer, who graduated from Amherst College, tagged along with his wife to her class reunion at nearby Smith.
While in Western Massachusetts, he noticed Amherst was buzzing with its own alumni weekend.
Although the party was not for his class of 1971, he knew some of the younger guys who had been on campus when he was there, so Rimmer decided to drop in and check things out.
It got the writer of the Pulitzer Prize-finalist play “Album” thinking—can a reunion mean something to a person who did not even attend that school?
He attempts to answer that with his newest play, “The Reunion Guy,” which will be staged May 17 at LaGuardia Community College.
Rimmer calls the piece “very scripted and improvisational,” which on the surface may not make sense, but dig a little bit and it is clear what he means.
Similar to the smash Off-Broadway show, “Tony and Tina’s Wedding,” Rimmer’s play puts the audience at the center of a college reunion. It begins in the distant future with a 40th reunion for the Class of 2016 at the fictional Windsor College—which is not unlike LaGuardia, the author admits.
Instead of unfolding on a stage, the story is played out everywhere in the room all at once. When audience members enter the space, each one will be given a name tag. Actors dressed as cater waiters will pass around trays of food and drinks.
As the proceedings get underway, the college bestows the title of “Best Alum” on the main character.
Then, through a series of flashbacks, it becomes clear that this man never attended the school.
The audience learns that years ago this “Reunion Guy” was taking a walk on the Windsor campus and came upon a reunion celebration. He noticed a beautiful woman, immediately fell in love with her, and decided to stick around.
“He is living a simple life,” Rimmer said. “Everyone else is obsessed with making money, but he has peace and serenity. And he helps bring out the best in people.”
Rimmer categorizes the script as a comedy which touches on issues of life and death, crisscrossing through 75 years.
Actors will stick to the basics of the script, but depending upon interactions with the “reunion attendees,” anything could transpire, Rimmer said.
“That’s the great thing about theater,” Rimmer said. “It is the only [art form] left that you don’t know what is going to happen.”
The main cast includes 12 speaking roles, comprised of professional actors along with LaGuardia professors and staff members. Students will take on supporting, chorus-type roles and help move the audience to where the action is.
“They’re from all disciplines of LaGuardia, including theater majors,” Rimmer said, “and people from my English and liberal arts classes, whose major, or at least biggest extracurricular, is adventure.”
If you Go
“The Reunion Guy”
When: Tuesday, May 17, at 4 pm
Where: LaGuardia Community College Poolside Café, Building E, enter on Van Dam Street near 47th Avenue, Long Island City
Contact: (718) 482-5151
Reach News Editor Kevin Zimmerman by e-mail at kzimm