xploring life, death, and the power of words, student playwright Daniel Quinones, MCAS ’19, is excited to debut his two original one-act plays, No One Asked Lazarus and Tunnel’s End, in Boston College Contemporary Theatre’s fall production “A Night of New Plays.”
Hailing from upstate New York, Quinones, an English major with a creative writing concentration and a theatre minor, found his passion for theatre at a young age. Attending theatre youth camp through middle and high school, Quinones first came into contact with the performing arts and playwriting through musicals. After coming to college, Quinones began to pursue playwriting more seriously. Although he has produced other plays and short stories, Quinones feels like these two plays are the ones that he should stage.
Quinones’s first play, No One Asked Lazarus, features the iconic character of Lazarus from the New Testament in a modern setting, detailing what happens to him after he comes back from the dead. Quinones imagines Lazarus as a hitman who pursues a target with the intention to kill him. Faced with death, the target tries to talk Lazarus out of the deed, and the play centers on the conflict between the will to kill and the will to live.
The second play, Tunnel’s End, is about a woman waking up in an underworld space, where she learns she has died and must try to get to the other side. In her journey, she realizes that things are not as they seem, and meet people who help her, as well as those who try to harm her.
Quinones credited Scott T. Cummings, chair of the theatre department, with the choice of using a one-act play as the medium for his art. No One Asked Lazarus also began in Cummings’s playwriting class in Quinones’ sophomore year. Quinones describes the beginning of the idea.
“I heard references to Lazarus in different songs; like there’s a David Bowie song called ‘Lazarus,’” Quinones said. “That name just kind of stuck in my head and I looked into it, and I just started to think about it and that’s kind of where that play came from.”
[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#c10409″ text=”#ffffff” width=”100%” align=”left” size=”1″ quote=”“Lazarus had a very long life cycle,” Quinones said. “It’s like a caterpillar became a cocoon into a butterfly.”” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]
he play went through many different phases, from a very conversational first draft with seven characters and no plot whatsoever to a 50-something page monstrosity. Eventually, Quinones decided to add some plot and cut the play down by half, to where it now is today.
“Lazarus had a very long life cycle,” Quinones said. “It’s like a caterpillar became a cocoon into a butterfly.”
In contrast to the frequent changes of No One Asked Lazarus, Tunnel’s End, which Quinones started writing the summer after his sophomore year, came about mostly at once. Quinones describes the play as always having been the same.
“It’s not so different from how it originally was when I first wrote it,” Quinones said. “That play kind of came as a complete thought.”
The two plays, although separate in content, have similar themes: Both are a consideration of life and death.
“They pretend to be all about death but really they’re all about life,” he said.
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espite having heavy settings featured on death and mortality, the two plays, in fact, use death to reflect on life. He tries to explore how to go through life, without focusing on the negative aspects of life that can make it feel worthless.
Violence is at the center of No One Asked Lazarus, as the play begins with Lazarus coming in with a gun, ready to shoot. Quinones wants to explore how we can battle violence with words, however, as the other character, called “the owner,” is devoid of an actual weapon but uses the power of words through storytelling to get Lazarus to put away his violence and find meaning.
Quinones describes Tunnel’s End as being concerned with the violence of men against women, and the danger that a violent man can pose. It also looks into the power that women have to help other women in these kinds of situations. Through the four characters in the play—three women and one man, who is the demon—Quinones wants to show how the teamwork between the three women help them overcome the demon in the end.
Quinones described his inspiration for writing.
“Something will like stick in my head, I think, and like then I won’t like have any choice but to write about it,” he said.
[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#b62739″ text=”#ffffff” align=”left” size=”1″ quote=”“I found that I have a real fondness for the way certain words sound put together… I’d say it’s like music—there’s kind of like a set up and has kind of like a payoff with like a really nice line, a really solid line,” Quinones said. “It just feels good to hear it, and I’d like to try and share that with people and hopefully they’ll enjoy it as much as I do.”” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]
ther inspirations come from music and playwrights such as Sarah Ruhl and Anton Chekhov. Quinones loves the power of words, and hopes to share that with others.
“I found that I have a real fondness for the way certain words sound put together… I’d say it’s like music—there’s kind of like a set up and has kind of like a payoff with like a really nice line, a really solid line,” Quinones said. “It just feels good to hear it, and I’d like to try and share that with people and hopefully they’ll enjoy it as much as I do.”
Seeing his plays produced has been an amazing experience for Quinones.
“It’s pretty crazy I would say,” he said. “I recommend it to anyone who’d want to give it a shot.”
Touching on the difference between plays and prose, Quinones finds that prose writing leaves room for the reader to fill in, while playwrights and their design teams must do the work that the reader would usually do. Giving much appreciation to his design team, Quinones describes them as what “breathes life into something that like would otherwise be difficult.”
Quinones credits them with helping him in taking the strangeness of the plays and presenting it in a real way, since he is trying to take “something not of his world.”
When watching his plays, Quinones wants the audience to keep one thing in mind.
“When things get a little bit dark and a little bit, like, creepy, I’d say bear with me, because I’m not trying to be scary,” Quinones said. “In the end, I think there’s a surprisingly positive message.”
Featured Image by Robsham Theatre Department