Praxis theatre series goes dystopian in student-written and directed “Willow’s Compass”

The Department of Theatre Arts at SUNY New Paltz continues its 2019-20 Praxis Series with the student-written and directed “Willow’s Compass,” with performances at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, all in Parker Theatre.

Playwright Brittania Marasciulo-Rivera

“Willow’s Compass” takes place in a dystopian world where infants are fitted with neural technology that prevents them from feeling emotions the government has deemed dangerous. The narrative follows protagonist Willow Thayer, the only unprogrammed human left, as she navigates a society where everyone else has been robbed of their free will.

Playwright Brittania Marasciulo-Rivera ’21 (Theatre Arts/Digital Media Production) of Carmel, New York, described the feeling of having her work come to life on stage as “completely surreal.”

“It is an absolute dream come true,” said Marasciulo-Rivera. “I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I have books upon books filled with words upon words that I never thought I’d see come off the page. But now it’s happening.”

Director Kayla Jones ’20 (Theatre Arts/Digital Media Production) of Port Jefferson Station, New York, also expressed excitement about the opportunity to bring this story to life.

“Science fiction is an extremely rare genre to find in the theatrical world,” said Jones.

Director Kayla Jones

“The cast, crew, and creatives have been enjoying charting this new territory, and we can’t wait to show our community what we’ve been creating for them.”

The idea for “Willow’s Compass,” Marasciulo-Rivera says, came from her fascination with the mysteries of the human psyche.

“We are all little universes, filled with a constant influx of erratic thoughts, impulses, and emotions,” she said. “I suppose ‘Willow’s Compass’ is an exploration of what might happen if we could control all of that—if we could effectively organize our minds into compartments, dulling the things we don’t want, and enhancing the things we do.”

Marasciulo-Rivera hopes audiences will leave the show with an increased appreciation for their emotions and free will, which she feels many people take for granted.

“I don’t think we pay enough attention to the power our can decisions have,” she said. “One bad decision, one impulsive move, can cause a lot of suffering. I want audiences to cherish their free will, but also understand how important it is that they use it for good.”

All Praxis Series performances are pay-what-you can, and tickets can be reserved online. Praxis performances are known to sell out, so attendees are encouraged to claim their seats in advance.

If you have accessibility questions or require accommodations to fully participate in this event, please contact Russell Thompson at

About the Praxis Series
Praxis projects provide theatre arts students and the broader campus community with opportunities to develop, explore and stretch their creativity outside of the department’s Mainstage Production season. The series often serves as a venue for student-written work; work with a social justice message; work from an underrepresented group; or new work still in development. For more information, please visit the Department of Theatre Arts’ Praxis Series website.