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“Untitled Grief” – An Original Play

actors on stage performing

Acacia Buschbach and Logan Roy in Sara Roger's play "Untitled Grief." Photo by Stephanie Smole '24.

Recently, Covenant College’s theatre department presented “Untitled Grief,” an original play written by senior Sara Rogers and directed by alumna Emily Cothran ‘21. Rogers wrote the script between her sophomore and junior years as a way of processing her hearing loss, and she wanted the play to reflect the idea of grief as a universal human experience.

Rogers shows grief as an emotion we all face and one that is deeply humanizing and humbling. The play was a two-man production about a man named Atlas and the ways he deals with loss after the unexpected death of his wife and daughter. Logan Roy ‘26 starred as Atlas, and Acacia Buschbach ‘26 played the narrator and Atlas’s wife, Dahlia. Both Roy and Buschbach stepped into their roles and conveyed the emotions of their characters flawlessly.

In the play, Atlas has always been a painter. For a man who shoves his emotions deep down inside, painting is a form of therapy and a way to process his feelings. The opening scene begins with Atlas recounting the very first piece he painted in high school, and then he begins to tell the audience how he fell in love with his wife, Dahlia, in college. Throughout the play, Atlas struggles to speak of his wife in the past tense, and we soon learn that Dahlia died, along with their baby girl that she was carrying.

“Untitled Grief” tells Atlas’s story in flashbacks. We first encounter him at the end of his journey of grief, but we see his previous moments of anger, fear, sadness and uncertainty. We watch how he processes loss in counseling, mourns the would-be lives of his wife and daughter, and angrily cries at the lack of answers religion offers. However, by the end of the play, we witness how Atlas remembers his loved ones by choosing to recognize the beauty and joy in the world.

His transformation is reflected in the simple setting of the play. As Atlas’ character grows and grieves, he creates six paintings, which are placed on six easels on the stage where Atlas sits in the middle. These paintings tell the story of his life from his childhood to his marriage and family to his tragic loss. The final painting is of two intertwined hands, painted as Atlas finally realizes that, even in the midst of death, he is still held.

While “Untitled Grief” argues that grief is a universal human experience, the message of the play is remarkably hopeful. Rogers’s play gives room for lament, but it also shows the possibility of hope. Though mourning loss is appropriate and very needed, Atlas is ultimately encouraged to live. Live because it is a beautiful thing to be alive. Live because he was so blessed to be loved. Live because he is never alone.

Perhaps the greatest line of Untitled Grief is the last: “Remembering that reminds me that I am not alone. That I will never be alone.” Through this, Rogers exhorts us to live confidently. Even as we grieve–no, especially as we grieve–we are embraced both by God and each other.

This article was originally published in The Bagpipe, Covenant’s student newspaper.

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