Vertigo Productions premieres student-written work in 10-Minute Play Festival


Daily file photo by Joanne Haner

The Vertigo Productions cast onstage for its fall play, “Centerville, NJ has a problem with trout.” The theatre group will premiere its 10-Minute Play Festival on March 11 and 12.

Annie Xia, Reporter

Surrounded by blackboards in a Lunt Hall classroom, Vertigo Productions’ playwriting chairs led five students in a class about writing 10-minute plays.

Vertigo will premiere the five plays in three shows on March 11 and 12 in Mussetter-Struble Theater. The plays feature a wide range of stories, from unusual events in a Southern town to guys working out.

Communication junior Anelga Hajjar, one of the playwriting co-chairs, said the playwrights polish and reshape their work over the quarter.

“The core theme and intention behind the play is still completely the same. It’s just the conveying of that message that has changed,” Hajjar said. “The revision is only magnifying what was already there.”

During the Vertigo classes, the co-chairs and playwrights follow workshop guidelines created by Communication Prof. Laura Schellhardt. They focus on specific moments and use phrases such as “I’m craving this” or “I got very excited at this moment.”

Communication senior Mariana Reyes said guiding the weekly playwriting sessions has taught her the benefit of diverse feedback.

“You can get very conflicting feedback on what you’re writing,” Daza said. “It’s good to get all the different opinions and try to find something that is best suited for you.”

One of the shows, “Paternity,” which Vertigo describes as a “queer drama-comedy,” explores how people fill emotional gaps through unconventional companions.

In another story that questions societal norms, “No Homo Bro Jonas Just Broness” pushes back against expectations of masculinity in a play that breaks the fourth wall.

“Welcome, Grim Reaper!” tells the story of a town where nothing ever dies and a narrator for whom death might actually be a blessing.

Also weaving in the premise of death, “The Exit Interview” is a comedy about the comfort in knowing that life is absolutely chaotic and makes no sense, Hajjar said.

With a more serious tone, “The House” conveys a deep message about relating to the elderly and leaning on people during times of pain, said Communication freshman Declan Franey, the show’s director.

The playwrights have until Sunday to turn in their final draft, which means the story evolves from week to week. Franey said the changing script for “The House” challenged him as a director to focus on the characters.

“Even when the script changes, or tech changes, we can still go at it with those core emotions and relationship between the characters,” Franey said.

Franey said he believes there are benefits to Vertigo’s 10-minute plays compared to longer shows.

“Just like we have specific moments in our lives we remember more than big spans, I think people can remember these short plays and really be impacted by them, sometimes more than a full two-hour production,” Franey said.

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