Vertigo Productions uplifts student voices by producing new work


Daily file photo by Joanne Haner

“Centerville, New Jersey Has a Problem with Trout,” Vertigo’s 2021 fall show in Shanley Pavilion.

Jamie Kim, Reporter

As a theatre board that produces new student-written work, Vertigo Productions amplifies the voices of student playwrights.

Vertigo is one of the theatre boards in Northwestern’s Student Theatre Coalition. The board produces one mainstage show in the fall, one in the spring and selects three plays for its Winter Reading Series.

“We really try to uplift voices that have been marginalized in the past or might not have the same platform,” said Communication senior Rick Hilscher, Vertigo’s co-chair and president.

This year’s Winter Reading Series features “Halal House,” “The Last Twelve Lives of Martin the Mayfly” and “Regicide.” Open call auditions for Vertigo’s spring mainstage show, “The Bloody Bricks and Blows of American Dream High,” were hosted on Thursday over Zoom. Vertigo also hosts a 10-Minute Play Festival at the end of Winter Quarter.

Communication sophomore Daniel Calderon said it is different to write a work and actually see it performed, and that Vertigo gives student playwrights that opportunity and experience.

Calderon, one of the production managers on Vertigo’s executive board, said the 10-Minute Play Festival is a great opportunity for first-time writers or playwrights who have never had their work produced before. Playwrights can not only write their own plays, but also interact with actors and go through the workshopping process.

Calderon also encourages students to come celebrate and support the work of featured playwrights because what is considered new work now becomes established work later on.

“New work is the future,” he said. “New work reflects what’s going on on campus.”

After trying to “poke around” and find boards that she connected with, Vertigo Co-Chair and Treasurer Sunnie Eraso petitioned to join Vertigo in the spring of her freshman year. The Communication junior had taken a playwriting class during Winter Quarter and attended several Vertigo shows prior to petitioning.

Eraso said joining the board with the explicit mission of supporting new student playwrights was a “soul-affirming” experience. Vertigo has given her the opportunity to be a part of a team that has developed her self-confidence and self-trust, she said, and she hopes it can be a place of support for other individuals who are just starting out.

“If you’ve never written a play before in your life, but you have a story that you just have to tell, come talk to us,” Eraso said.

The process of selecting works includes understanding why playwrights chose to write their stories and what speaks to them, Hilscher said. Board members also examine stories that speak to them individually and demonstrate interesting writing styles, experiment with forms or utilize a traditional form well.

Hilscher also said Vertigo has been a community that he depends on heavily and loves collaborating with. He’s excited to see what the future holds as new members petition to join the board in the spring.

“I hope we can get some great new people to come on and share their voices and help shape the future of new work,” Hilscher said.

Email: [email protected]

Related Stories:
Captured: Vertigo premieres student-written play with messages of climate change and inclusion
Lift Ev’ry Voice and Vertigo Productions provide space for black artists on campus to share their voice
Vertigo Productions to feature student comedians in ‘A New Shack Laugh Track’