“Everyone and Everything” debuts in Lower Depths Theater

The Loyola Department of Theatre Arts and Dance premiered an original piece entitled “Everyone and Everything” April 21 in Loyola’s Lower Depths Theater. This piece, devised by Professor Helen Jaksch and almost 30 Loyola students, is based on the personal lives of the ensemble members, who infused the play with nonfictional, personal memories while also writing fictional scenes. 


Jaksch said that when they were looking for a new play to bring to campus, none of the scripts they read felt like they perfectly fit the students they were working with. 


“There’s such a great range of students here in terms of their stories and interests and backgrounds and lives,” Jaksch said. “Nothing felt like it held it all, so I pitched to Sal (Mannino), ‘What if we created something together?’”


“Everyone and Everything” is a devised piece, which means that it was created from scratch by the show’s performers and creative team during the first few weeks of rehearsal. The show doesn’t follow a linear plot, but Jaksch said that unconventional structure gives them the artistic freedom to build momentum in interesting ways.


“In a devised piece, it’s so much more about the beginning, middle, and end experience for the audience,” Jaksch said. “It’s a culmination of all these scenes, and moments, and stories and then we offer it to you like a bowl and you get to take a sip and decide what it means.”


Roya Scott, a member of the ensemble, said a few of her experiences in rehearsals stood out, particularly one moment where something she improvised was written into the final show. Scott and a few of her castmates, swept up in the emotion of the moment, hugged Emma Velasquez after she finished her monologue at a rehearsal. 

“It was just this unplanned, tender moment between the four of us that Helen said we could keep in the play,” Scott said. “It just goes to show how close the whole cast has become and the natural, raw emotion infused in the piece.”

Scott also highlighted Jaksch’s directing, saying that they know exactly how to take each of the cast members into consideration and fit them into scenes.

“Helen is so creative and humble and focused, this show would not be what it is without their direction and vision,” Scott said. “I feel so lucky I finally got the chance to work with Helen during my last semester at Loyola.”

Scott felt that she has had much more freedom in this piece compared to anything else she’s done, which is a feeling Assistant Director Aria Jackson said she shares.


“Everyone and Everything” is grounded in the most vulnerable and most joyous experiences of the ensemble who have been truthful and authentic in their storytelling, Jackson said. Jackson said watching the ensemble grow closer together through collaboration was a rewarding experience. 

“Some people joined the ensemble not knowing another person in the room, trusting that their jump away from their comfort zone would help them grow and it has truly been so inspiring watching them create connections with each other, both on stage and off,” she said.

She said that Jaksch motivated her by trusting her with the responsibility of the show.

“From the very beginning, I was included in every part of the process, from auditions to callbacks to helping write the script to staging some scenes,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if I would have had the courage or confidence to take on some of these tasks without their help, and I can’t wait for the audience to experience the emotional rollercoaster we’ve prepared for them.”


Ensemble member Asta Balakauskas enjoyed seeing everyone’s personalities and stories come through in the performance. 

“I am personally looking forward to having it just put on stage for the first time ever and for the audience to experience it,” Balakauskas said. “We all are playing ourselves, so that is as authentic as we could be. This play is devised by us, created by us, and we are us in this place.” 


The show finishes its run April 27, 28, 29, and 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Loyola’s Lower Depths Theater.



by Arianna D'Antonio