Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 29, 2014

Playwrights’ Workshop displays raw talent

What happens when the creative minds of Knox come together to innovate a new and improved art form? On Saturday, Oct. 25 in Harbach Theatre, audience members were able to witness just such an occurrence at Knox’s “Playwrights’ Workshop Performance.”

The event was a showcase of four original plays written, directed and performed by Knox students. The first was a shrewd social comedy titled “Overinsured,” written by sophomore Aidan Murphy, directed by junior Micah Snow and starring freshman Zak Metalsky. Between clever puns and pop culture references familiar to all of the delighted audience members, the storyline of this one-act follows Dave (Metalsky), an easily persuaded consumer, who sees one too many insurance commercials and proceeds to purchase everything advertised. After getting into yet another car crash, Dave must team up with his many insurance representatives to wake the unconscious crash victim before the police arrive.

“I came up with most of the jokes beforehand,” said Murphy when asked about the process of writing this comŽdie noir. For instance, the flirtatious pun “I’d like to see you state minimum coverage,” made by Allstate’s Mayhem (played by senior Lara Brewner) to Progressive’s icon, Flo (played by freshman Miranda Curtis) toward the end of the play, was written just before the show. However this play was pieced together, the fluidity of the puns as well as the plot and character developments were seamless.

The second piece, titled “Act IV of The Art of Forgetting it All,” written by sophomore Danny Donnelly and directed by Curtis, takes on a more serious, yet decidedly heart-warming tone. The play follows a family dealing with the ups and downs of life. In “Act IV,” the family faces its greatest hardship yet: the death of their father. Metalsky discussed the work put into performing such interpersonal scenes.

“Some people, when they first get the script, only look at their lines, but it is important to see how the character works in the story as a whole and how they interact with the other characters,” Metalsky said. “Relationships say a lot about a person.”

Like Murphy, Donnelly has somewhat unconventional writing methods. When formulating a new script, he explained, “I like to work, at the beginning, with simple words É I pick a word and then start writing, thinking about that word.”

And what was the word that inspired this four-act drama? “Waffles.”

This goes to show the raw potential that creative minds see in everyday things. No matter Donnelley’s writing methods, the result was a well-rounded show that displayed a balance between situational comedy and heart-wrenching tragedy; audience members did not know whether to rejoice or lament.

Next came “At the Movies,” written by junior Timmy Connor, directed by junior Megan Smith and starring sophomore Lara Braverman. The onset of this play features the main character, Bridge (Braverman), standing on a darkened stage, criticising society (in a very compelling manner) for its perpetuation of the idea of “being good enough” and the rigid criteria that fall under this category. However, before the audience has the chance to nominate Bridge for president, the stage lights come up, revealing three bodies of people whom she has killed, one of them her best friend. This chilling juxtaposition between eloquence and violence left audience members in rapt attention. Although “At the Movies” is still a work in progress, Connor, Smith and Braverman’s play has already caught people’s attention.

Last, but most definitely not least was the stage adaptation of the 18th century epistolary novel “Pamela” by Samuel Richardson. This dramatic piece was written by senior Maddie Mondeaux, directed by sophomore Emily Trevor and starred Brewner and Braverman. What struck audience members as most impressive about Mondeaux’s and Trevor’s work was how faithful they remained to the book while also adding a contemporary twist to its presentation.

“I write very few original plays,” Mondeaux said when asked about the difficulties of creating adaptations as opposed to original works. “I wouldn’t say it’s more difficult [than writing original pieces], it’s just difficult in a different way.”

With their complex narratives and thought-provoking subject matters, the performances from last Saturday’s Playwrights’ Workshop intrigued audiences and brought attention to students’ raw talent.


Tags:  actors drama playwrights theater thespians workshop

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