STE stuns again with David and Lisa


Sanderson Theatre Ensemble

Barbara Trujillo-Romo (left) and Xander Barnes (right) starred in STE’s performance of David and Lisa.

 Sanderson’s Theatre Ensemble (STE) put on a striking production of the 1962 drama David and Lisa this past weekend. 

  Sanderson Junior Xander Barnes starred as David Clemens in the play, an extremely intelligent yet frightful sixteen-year-old boy with an acute and intense fear that he will die at anyone’s touch. The story follows Clemens as he is sent to a school for mentally disturbed teens where he evades students and psychiatrists alike—until he meets Lisa Brandt. 

  Lisa, the counterpart of the play’s namesake, is a fifteen-year-old student suffering from Dissociative Personality Disorder played brilliantly by Sanderson senior Barbara Trujillo-Romo. One personality, Lisa, is a bubbly girl that only speaks in rhymes. The other, Murial, is mute and withdrawn from reality. This appears to have been an especially difficult role, as it is essentially two in one.   

  Trujillo-Romo says “it was really difficult to portray that role without being disrespectful to people that actually have [the disorder],” and she says “my character had two very different personalities…it was very hard to distinguish between the two.”  

  All of the roles were phenomenally executed by the cast—from psychiatrists to mentally ill students to David’s parents. It was clear to the audience that the entire cast took their roles seriously. Barnes and Trujillo-Romo did their characters justice as they portrayed the love story that blossoms midway through the drama. David, despite his arrogant persona, befriends Lisa by rhyming with her and teaching her how to properly spell words. David becomes progressively more protective of Lisa; and even comes close to getting punched for her, despite his fear of literally dying with a touch. 

  The play’s climax features Lisa running away after a disagreement with David; and more importantly, after she recognized that both Lisa and Muriel are parts of her. After a suspenseful and somewhat ambiguous scene in which Lisa is targeted by two men, David finds her and the unthinkable happens—Lisa begins to talk to him in prose, and David bravely grasps her hand.  

    STE’s tech crew worked wonders, as always, transporting viewers to 1960s America with a great set, period-appropriate outfits, and songs from the time playing every transition. Lighting also facilitated the shift between scenes. Without this extensive behind-the-scenes work, the show could not have come to life as well as it did. 

  Before the show, Theatre teacher and director Peter Comperatore addressed the audience about the importance of mental health. He said that he selected David and Lisa because he believes it “highlights the issue of mental health in a way that creates awareness”.   

  Similarly, Trujillo-Romo says this show and others she has been a part of through STE “tackle real life events,” and one of the things she appreciates about the art form of theatre is that it allows her to “be in somebody else’s shoes.” 

  Sanderson senior Fernando Cuevas attended the play on opening night, and he says it was a very powerful show. 

  “It brought awareness to mental illness in today’s society,” Cuevas says, “I’m very proud of all the people that were in it.” 

The group invites all Sanderson students, staff, and parents to come see their upcoming North Carolina Theatre Conference show, “Ernest and the Pale Moon” on October 29 and 30.