Centerstage Theatre’s final show of the 2021-2022 season, Bekah Brunstetter’s The Oregon Trail, runs from Aug. 19 through Sept. 11.
The play follows the story of Jane as she navigates through puberty, adolescence, and then adulthood, while indulging in her favorite video game, “The Oregon Trail.”
“The play is a poignant story that a whole lot of people will be able to relate to,” said Jeanette Sanchez, the show’s director. “Young Jane is having a bit of an existential crisis as she braves the liminality of childhood to becoming a healthy adult. She is on a journey to find the strength within her to begin to take more positive action in her life.”
The show speaks to the universal experience of growing up, the vulnerability of not knowing what you want to do with your life, and feeling like the odds are stacked against you, Sanchez added. It also touches on generational trauma and depression, but in a way that allows people to laugh at the absurdity of the show and the reflection we can see in our own lives.
“So many of us came out of our pandemic isolation relying on various apps and games to keep us going. In this case, Jane literally has the game helping her to move forward, even if she doesn’t want to,” she said.
The play was inspired by a video game series of the same name which was originally developed in the 1970s by three college students at the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC), according to a Sept. 25, 2014 article in The Atlantic, titled “Going West: The World of Live Action, Competitive Oregon Trail”.
The game was crested as a way to teach history in a fun, interactive way. It became one of the most beloved video games of students growing up in the 80s and 90s.
This show is a nod to the 80s and 90s era and all the now-adults who grew up playing the game. The Oregon Trail show includes many “Easter eggs” for audience members to enjoy, according to Centerstage Theatre’s Artistic Director Trista Duval.
“If you were ever 13 years old, you will see yourself in this show,” said Duval.