[Working Title: OPTIONAL BOSS BATTLE]

Like teens all over the world, Alonso and Ruben are forced into remote learning in March of 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Icy acquaintances at their bougie prep school, they forge an unlikely friendship when new-in-town Ruben realizes he lives just around the corner from agoraphobic Alonso in Hackensack, NJ. A story about processing grief, forging connection, coming to terms with identity, and caring for one’...
Like teens all over the world, Alonso and Ruben are forced into remote learning in March of 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Icy acquaintances at their bougie prep school, they forge an unlikely friendship when new-in-town Ruben realizes he lives just around the corner from agoraphobic Alonso in Hackensack, NJ. A story about processing grief, forging connection, coming to terms with identity, and caring for one’s mental health in unsettled times. CW: self harm, anxiety, discussion of suicide, family member death
NEW DRAFT AS OF 7/30/23
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[Working Title: OPTIONAL BOSS BATTLE]

Recommended by

  • Iraisa Ann Reilly:
    6 Jun. 2023
    Malakow has a gift for crafting authentic teenagers dealing with big world problems. A heartfelt look at adolescence in the time of social distancing, and finding connection when it's nearly impossible to connect. A beautiful story crafted with empathy and heart.
  • Sarah Tuft:
    30 Sep. 2021
    This play offers such a heartbreakingly tender window into a world of young men finding their way, not just to each other, but to their best selves, it feels a privilege to be on the journey with them. Though their obstacles are very specific - being queer, being young, being thwarted by the pandemic, being overwhelmed by mental health issues, being terrified of everything I just mentioned, their humanity is universal. OPTIONAL BOSS BATTLE crackles with authenticity, right down to the kind but powerless teacher. Get this play out into the world!!
  • John Mabey:
    3 Feb. 2021
    Nick Malakhow is incredibly gifted for writing complex characters with depth and authenticity. And in this full-length, he places the story in covid-era times and provides such an engaging work about the intersections of sexuality, internalized homophobia, and mental health. Especially poignant are the themes of connection between the queer teens and their mothers, navigating the ways we can be vulnerable and strong together. There are also exciting production elements to this play that theatre artists will love to explore about living our realities in an online fantasy world.

Character Information

  • ALONSO
    16-17,
    Latine, Afro-Latine
    ,
    He/Him/His
    A junior in high school. Wound tight.
  • RUBEN
    16-17,
    Latine
    ,
    He/Him/His
    A junior in high school. Grungy hipster-type to piss off his family.
  • ALONSO'S MOM
    40's-50's,
    Latine, Afro-Latine
    ,
    She/Her/Hers
    Caring and concerned, but kind of at her wit’s end.*
  • RUBEN'S MOM
    40's-50's,
    Any Latine
    ,
    She/Her/Hers
    Still in the fog of grief.*
  • CHASE ACADEMY ON ZOOM!
    Various, Array,
    Various
    Alonso and Ruben’s school is conducted through Zoom classes, as they’ve all been sent home from Chase Academy, a fictional New Jersey prep school, due to COVID-19. I envision these classes as being improvised and recorded on an actual platform such as Zoom and played during the show. I imagine there is a world in which you dramatize these Zoom classes onstage with a huge cast (think 15 more people). If you go that route, I would hope that world would seem very separate and alienated (onstage) from Alonso and Ruben’s IRL world. The two teachers (English and Science) are definitely white men.

Development History

  • Workshop
    ,
    Two River Theatre
    ,
    2021

Awards

Semi-Finalist
,
Seven Devils Playwrights Conferece
,
Seven Devils
,
2023