A local townsperson wanders into reunion weekend at a small college, falls in love with the wife of a ’71 alum, and keeps coming back to the reunion over the next 75 years. The class of 1971 is so taken with this stranger’s peaceful and generous nature that they not only accept him as one of their own but elect him class president.

 That’s what happens in The Reunion Guy, performed in May at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, N.Y., where playwright David Rimmer ’71 is an adjunct professor.

David Rimmer ’71 is perhaps best known for two plays, “New York”, about the psychological trauma of 9/11, and “Album,” which helped launch the careers of Kevin Bacon, Megan Mullally and Jennifer Grey. Photo by Beth Perkins

As you might have guessed, he based the play—which he describes as a bittersweet comedy about friendship and loss—on his alma mater’s reunions. Inspiration came in 1994, when he joined his wife, Ellen Sandhaus, at her Smith reunion and then dropped in on the gathering for Amherst’s class of 1969. Amherst’s 2001 reunion featured a reading of his play.

Rimmer staged this spring’s LaGuardia production at the school’s Poolside Café. “We put all the audience chairs in the middle of this big room, and we had the action go on all around them, and we made it seem like a reunion,” he says. “We had food and drinks.” Cast and crew included students, faculty and staff, along with a few professional actors. 

Because LaGuardia is a commuter school, Rimmer believes, students don’t necessarily form as close an attachment to it as they would to a residential school. He wanted The Reunion Guy to exemplify a different kind of school spirit. “In a way,” he says, “I was sort of using Amherst as a positive role model for the way to connect with alumni.” He’s looking into using the play as the basis for an interdisciplinary, for-credit course at the community college. 

Rimmer is perhaps best known for New York, his 2002 play about the psychological trauma of 9/11, and for Album, his off-Broadway show about teenagers in the 1960s, which was a 1981 Pulitzer Prize finalist and helped to launch the careers of Kevin Bacon, Megan Mullally and Jennifer Grey. Rimmer has shown a short-film version of Album at various festivals and hopes to turn it into a feature-length picture. He’s also working on a new TV series, Murder Avenue, which he sums up as “The Wonder Years meets The Sopranos.”

The Reunion Guy, by David Rimmer ’71, LaGuardia Community College

This spring Rimmer helped make a slideshow for his 45-year reunion. As a young man, he says, he didn’t really enjoy reunion—his peers seemed a bit too competitive with one another in terms of money and careers. But at the 25th, he found that people had mellowed with age: “Everyone accepted themselves, they accepted each other, and it was really great.” Ever since then, he’s just kept on coming back. 

 About the author: Katherine Duke ’05 is the magazine’s assistant editor.