“Please Continue” By Frank Basloe

“Please Continue”

By Frank Basloe

Performed by: Tara Lynne Barr, Will Brittain, Jake Green, Taj Jegaraj, Rob Morrow, James Scully, Mark Jude Sullivan, Matthew Wolf

Length: 1 hr and 53 mins

Published April 4th 2019 by L.A. Theatre Works

Well, it looks like I’m going to be closing out 2020 with a bunch of plays. Not a bad way to end a bad year. This time around it is “Please Continue” by Frank Basloe. This play tells the tale of psychologist Stanley Milgram’s studies/experiments on obedience in the 60s.

The gist of the studies/experiments is that a student is told to administer an electric shock to a student when a wrong answer is given. The shocks become more powerful as more wrong answers are given. With the test subject screaming in pain in the next room, the actual test subject is told to, “Please Continue” if they hesitate on giving the next shock. These experiments really do expose a lot about the human psyche.

This play also weaves in the story of Francis, a grad student assigned to Milgram who was involved in a gang rape of a 14 year old girl at his previous college. Francis was not named in the hearing on that case but he knows he took part. As he is conducting the experiments for Milgram his guilt is triggered and comes to the surface. He seeks out the advice from a local clergy who convinces Francis to seek out atonement not forgiveness. That is the big hole in this performance. We never really find out what that atonement is or whether it was the right advice.

That lack of finality in the story really left me hanging in the story and pretty much ruined the entire play for me. Something was just missing. The performance and production were high quality, it’s just that the story was missing something, some closure. Otherwise it was pretty interesting to hear the outcome of the original experiments where other humans were prone to keep administering the punishment no matter how guilty they started to feel. I think this could have been explored more and just leave out Francis’ story. At one point in the play there is the statement where the men of Yale would of course keep punishing their fellow students, because they are self-centered seekers of power. (I paraphrased, but that’s the gist of it.) So was it human nature or just the nature of certain humans attracted to the idea of becoming a “Yale Man”?

Publisher’s Summary

Based on the true story of renowned social psychologist Stanley Milgram, Please Continue recounts the infamous obedience experiments at Yale in the 1960s. In that study, participants were asked to administer strong electric shocks to a subject who gave the wrong answer to a question, not knowing that the shocks were fake, and they were the real subject of the study. The play examines how the experiments gave insight into the nature of authoritarianism and individual morality.

Includes an interview about science and ethics with Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a Professor of Education at the Rossier School of Education, a Professor of Psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute, and a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty at the University of Southern California.

Please Continue is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, bridging science and the arts in the modern world.

Directed by Rosalind Ayres.

An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring:

Tara Lynne Barr as Margaret Hopson

Will Brittain as James Sanders

Jake Green as Saul Dashoff

Taj Jegaraj as Harold Burden

Rob Morrow as Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

James Scully as Mitchell Halverson III

Mark Jude Sullivan as Francis Dunleavy

Matthew Wolf as Dr. Stanley Milgram

Sound Effects Artist: Jeff Gardner. Script Supervisor, Nikki Hyde. Music Supervisor, Ronn Lipkin. Associate Artistic Director, Anna Lyse Erikson. Recording Engineer, Sound Designer and Editor, Erick Cifuentes. Mixed by Mark Holden for The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood.

Recorded at The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood.

©2019 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2019 L.A. Theatre Works