Apocalypse Now-ish: Chloe Rice on Her New Dystopian Play

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PHOTO COURTESY OF CHLOE RICE

Rice (right) and Roland’s (left) previous play, “Houston, We Have a Problem,” premiered at The Tank in December.

By MICHAEL BYRNE, Contributing Writer

Chloe Rice, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’21, has a lot on her plate. Actually, when I met her at The Flame Diner, she only had a decaf coffee. But elsewhere the idiom applies, as Rice is the writer, co-producer and co-star of a new play, “Seven Days to the End of the World,” which will be presented on Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Dixon Place in the Bowery.

The Flame was a felicitous spot to talk with Rice, since it’s the same type of establishment that serves as the setting for “Seven Days,” an apocalyptic tale of two dissimilar women waiting out the end of days together.

“The biggest thing about the diner that I wrote this to take place in is that it’s not old enough to be vintage and cute, but it’s not modern enough to be considered a ‘nice’ diner,” Rice said. “It lives in a kind of middle ground that makes it super familiar but also like an out-of-body experience.” 

Rice affectionately referred to the show as a “very staged reading,” meaning it technically leans closer to a workshop presentation than a full-on production. But one could easily think otherwise by hearing her describe the technical aspects of the show, which include “extensive lighting cues as well as fully built sound design,” according to Rice. The staging also includes props, costumes and a decorated set.

Still, Rice’s ideal staging of the show would include a higher production value. “It’s our best representation to test it out, get it in people’s ears and in people’s minds,” Rice said.

The play’s dystopian subject matter seems especially germane with the specter of World War III in the news. “With everything going on, I’m still getting up and going to class, and going to work, and going to rehearsal even though the planet’s falling apart,” Rice said. “It’s weird that we’re able to continue with what we’re doing, but what else do we know? I think that’s what I wanted to hit in this show.”

Rice’s friend and creative partner since high school, Natasha Roland, is likewise serving as co-producer and co-star along with directing the show. Rice sees a similar collaborative spirit in Fordham’s theater program. “We do an entire studio season, which can range from anywhere from a dozen to, say, 17 student-produced shows a year,” Rice said. “They’re either directed by students or written by students, or sometimes both. But then they’re also designed by students and acted in by students, and that’s really the core of student-run theater at Fordham.”

Rice’s Fordham Theatre community continually shows its encouragement of student-produced shows, even when they occur in venues outside the university. In December, Rice and Roland produced their original play “Houston, We Have a Problem” at The Tank in the Garment District. “Especially at our last show, which was completely independent of school, it was such an incredible experience to see the school community come out and have artists supporting artists,” she recalled.

The production process has been hectic for Rice, but it was ultimately inspiring. “It’s shown me how you can create some pretty amazing things from almost nothing. We’re definitely working on tight budgets as students, so every time, I’m just amazed at what we’re able to accomplish.”