Jon Peters ’09 Offers Surreal Fun With “Roland”

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Jon Peters ’09, author and director, wrote the script for “Roland” over the summer, and told the Gazette that “my childhood” had been his inspiration. “Of course I was into other things more like Beanie Babies than Roland, but I didn’t include that… Roland is a younger version of me, someone who doesn’t understand that childhood is over and it’s time for adolescence.” Isn’t Roland nine? “Well, it’s time to be less childish.”

Dustin Trabert ’10, who produced the show, said “It’s really great that Drama Board has had a chance to have so much student written or composed theater this semester… what’s especially exciting about this one is just how unabashed it it about being fun.”

What does he mean by fun? Well, Peters described the play’s plot as following: “It’s about this young boy Roland [Chloe Noonan ’12] who gets into trouble when he threatens the postman [Hunter Bayliss ’12] with a whiffle bat and has to attend a group therapy session with a rogue psychologist [Jessica Schleider ’12] who’s taken it upon herself to change the rules of the profession and who thinks that every child is on drugs.”

Is that zany enough for you? There’s more where that came from—the machinations of Roland’s parents [Bayliss, again and Sarah Chasins ’12] and the absurd pretend therapy games played by Roland and his friend Mariah [Julie Spielvogel ’12].

This reviewer’s personal favorite sub-plot revolved around Roland’s older brother D.H. [Noland Gear ’12], a budding sixth-grade artist who just wants to fit in with his skateboarding buddy Jerry [James Robinson ’10].

The show is characterized by a mixture of absurdist and physical comedy. Peters explains that “music is super-important to the show… I originally wanted to do a classical cavalcade of music, but Chloe decided we needed more contemporary in there.” The dance hits are a great choice for a cast that’s clearly enjoying itself.

Assistant Director Ben Hattem ’12 gave us another take when he described the play as “a revelation, a surrealist image of a child’s life through their own eyes… the break from peace with the world into an almost hallucinatory phantasm of adulthood.”

“Hallucinatory” is a good word. And so this reviewer urges you to spend 70 minutes of this weekend with Roland, playing in Upper Tarble at 6 PM on Friday and 1 PM on Saturday and Sunday.


  1. JBP once dedicated a song to a good friend of mine during one of my first few weeks at Swat. It was a motherfuckin' *dreamy* experience, I tell you.

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