Ryen Weston Values Interconnectedness Post-COVID

She plays the role of Joy, a naïve serial monogamist with a heartwarming blind ability to love.

Joy (Ryen Weston) is a serial monogamist who’s unsure about herself, but along the way begins to learn a
lot more about who she is in an airport. Photo by Olivia Perez.

Ryen Weston plays Joy, in the production of “Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls.” Joy is naïve, but she ends up learning more about who she is throughout the play. Weston says that’s something she can relate to personally and says that despite COVID-19 impacting her show opportunities at first, she has now been able to pursue her theater arts major at SUNY New Paltz and contribute to the local arts program on campus. She believes that her newest production portrays a theme of connection that can definitely resonate with fellow college students.

How would you describe “Aloha”? 

The show basically follows a bunch of different characters who live in Brooklyn. They’re all trying to grapple with adulthood and what that means for them. Many of them move to places like Alaska and Hawaii, and kind of just find ways to have fun and discover that you can still have fun while being an adult.

Yeah, it can for sure be tough and crazy growing up, but you should still find time throughout your adulthood to just have fun and not let the world determine what you do. 

The show also emphasizes the importance of the people that surround you. At the start of the show, everyone is kind of isolated and dealing with breakups or fights, but I think they all eventually learn the importance of being connected and having people in your life that you value. 

How do you believe this play will resonate with your peers at SUNY New Paltz?

I think things like connectedness and friendships are important. It’s something that college students should hear, especially with how the COVID-19 pandemic affected many of us. We’re also kind of grasping with the mindset, “Oh my god, we’re about to become adults,” and it’s no doubt scary and daunting.

In what ways does the role of Joy captivate? 

My character, Joy, is somebody who never really knows what she wants. She’s a serial monogamist but also super naïve, although she doesn’t seem like it. Throughout the show, she gains a lot of knowledge and really learns more about herself. There’s this one scene towards the end of the first act where she meets this character named Martin inside of an airport, who is actually a dog that got turned into a human. 

Ryen Weston connects to her character, Joy, as they both are described as naive individuals who
learn more about who they are throughout the show. Photo by Olivia Sippel.

This sounds like a very fun and entertaining show. Would you say that’s the same for the show rehearsals? How have things been behind the scenes?

At first, we were just reading through the play and blocking each scene [where actors learn where to stand on the stage], but now we’re starting to really piece things together. There’s been points in between us rehearsing scenes where others will pretend to be their characters off stage so that they can get a better sense of who the character is and how they can be best portrayed. That’s helped us out with things like improv, though we’ve also been able to just stick with the script too since it has everything we need in there.

What about your castmates and crew? Have you enjoyed working with them throughout this process?

Honestly, this cast is like one big family. This show is all about interconnectedness. I feel like that helped bring us together in a very different way compared to other shows I’ve been in. We’re a decently small cast so we’re always together either on stage or in the same room and we’ve all come to respect one another. 

How was your experience working with British Writers’ Guild Award winning director Tony Speciale?

Our director, Tony, is amazing and really emphasizes to us to try all different possibilities for our characters before officially landing on one. His efforts really helped push us to do the best we could and discover new possibilities. Everything about this show has just been incredible, honestly.

Final thoughts on the theme of the play

I believe this show really tells us that being an adult here isn’t any different from being an adult five years from now. It’s very heartwarming!

Kevin Brennan

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