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ND Theater NOW spotlights human experiences

| Thursday, October 2, 2014

ND Theater NOW, a set of student-written and student-produced one-act plays, opens Thursday night in the Philbin Studio Theater at the Debartolo Performing Arts Center.

“Beneath My Skin,” written by senior Zachary Wendeln, and “Out of Orbit,” written by senior Lucas García, were chosen by a playwriting committee consisting of Film, Theater and Television (FTT) professors last spring to be put on this fall.

Both playwrights became involved in ND Theater NOW through Professor Anne García-Romero’s playwriting class, Wendeln said.

“The play started as a response to prompts in the playwriting workshop; it was just a bunch of scenes that weren’t in any sort of time or plot order,” Wendeln said. “Once I decided to submit to ND Theater NOW, I started to fill in the blanks in terms of chronology.”

Both playwrights have continued to edit and rewrite since casting and production began, Wendeln said.

“The important part of ND Theater NOW is that it’s a new play process,” García said. “The actors and the director and the writer work together to sort of re-make the play … [“Out of Orbit”] has gone through five revisions.”

Junior Anthony Murphy is directing and acting in “Out of Orbit,” he said.

“Because it’s a student-written play and it’s a part of the new play process, both the actors and the production team have to be on their toes and flexible … ready for every hurdle that’s about to come,” Murphy said.

“A really cool part about this whole process was that the playwright was on hand. Usually, you work with a play where the writer has been dead for 100 years, so you have to guess their intentions. Having Lucas there was such an important asset to the excellence of the show,” Murphy said.

Both one-acts focus on LGBTQ issues, according to a university press release about the show.

“This year, FTT student playwrights add their voices to the ongoing campus conversation about dignity and inclusion with the two new one-act plays about the struggles, consequences and rewards of coming out of the closet,” the press release stated.

Each one-act piece approaches the topic differently, however.

“[‘Beneath My Skin’] is about the main character and his sort of coming-out process … his journey of self-identification and how it impacts his relationships with others,” Wendeln said. “I hope that what people take away is that while the main character is gay, I think a lot of the struggles he and a lot of people in his life go through are just very human struggles as far as discovery of self, dealing with secrets, pain, heartbreak, first love.

“… These are all themes and experiences that everyone has regardless of age or sexual orientation, and I hope that the audience can approach it from that side instead of just seeing it as a ‘gay’ play.”

García said his one-act, “Out of Orbit,” focuses on family dynamics.

“There’s a lot of things that get revealed,” García said. “There’s a lot of issues and family angst, but it’s really about how they learn to communicate with each other again. … It’s new for everybody.

“I hope that people would take away that it is okay to be uncertain about things. It’s okay to say you don’t know, and it’s okay to make mistakes. The important thing is that you talk about it and that you make amends and that you try to be better, no matter what perspective you’re coming from.

“The point is that you talk to each other. Because when you don’t talk to each other, then things don’t work anymore. And then everyone loses,” he said.

Theater director Kevin Dreyer expressed his enthusiasm for both students’ shows in a university press release.

“We’re deeply committed to providing a safe space for them to explore ideas and develop their artistic voices,” Dreyer said in the press release.

Both student playwrights said ND Theater NOW is going to be a special night for campus, as the program includes things never seen before on a Notre Dame stage.

“Come see the play,” García said. “It’s going to be an intense night of theater. Take a risk.”

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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