Vertigo offers public participation in development of student-written plays


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Three student writers will see their works performed this weekend at Vertigo’s first annual Winter Reading Series. The set showcases “writer’s corners,” depicting the playwright’s development process.

Yaqoob Qaseem, Reporter


This weekend, audience members will be able to participate in the creation of student-written plays.

Vertigo Productions, a student organization for undergraduate playwrights, will host its first annual Winter Reading Series Thursday through Saturday. In this free event at Shanley Pavilion, actors will read student-written plays currently in development.

“What a gift it is to hear (the play) out loud in a house full of people, hear what jokes land with them, what moments sound unsettling and then you can print new pages,” said Isabel Thompson, a Communication junior and producer of the event.

Both Thompson and Eva Victor, Communication junior and a featured playwright, said the plays would likely evolve even in the short gaps between readings. The programs will include anonymous feedback forms to facilitate audience participation in the development of the plays, Thompson said.

Thompson and Victor said the opportunity is valuable for actors, who influence the play by giving voices to characters for the first time. The actors also face the unique challenge of presenting a constantly changing work.

“It’s like a really helpful symbiotic relationship,” said Scott Egleston, Communication senior and actor in Victor’s play.

Thompson said reading series allow student playwrights to present work that would be challenging to fully produce with a limited budget.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it justice,” Thompson said of Victor’s play, which involves several magical aspects. “Vertigo’s mission is really all about serving playwrights and creating processes catered to them that will help them become better writers and develop their plays.”

Each of the three plays has a design team that creates its ideal set using sketches, watercolors and models. These designs will be on exhibit during the event, and the designers will be present to discuss their visions with the audience.

“My set designer … brought in maybe 30 truly amazing research images that he showed to me, and that influenced the edits I’ve made on my play significantly,” Victor said.

In addition to the set designs, the event will also include “writer’s corners,” which consist of collections of items illustrating each playwright’s process.

“Writers’ processes are physically plastered on the walls,” Thompson said.

She also said the event has two primary purposes in her eyes: to improve the writer’s understanding of his work and to foster appreciation of the development process in the audience. Victor said she views the event partly as a celebration.

“I also don’t understand how we’ve never embraced this kind of community before,” Victor said. “The idea that there are designers working towards it, that there’s dozens of people excited for this, is fascinating, you know, tear-inducing.”

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