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Ready, Set, Write!

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Students get WiRED for 24-hour playwriting experience

A zookeeper's wife disguises herself as a gorilla. A professor's intoxicated spouse crashes his date. An 'eighties career woman bonds with a goat-boy at a cosmetics firm.
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Robert Hoffman '10 and Juliet Coffey '09 perform in "Give Me Back My Goat-Boy: The Nancy Hernandez-Vanderbilt Story." (Photo by Jennifer Argote '10)

These are not last night's dreams. They are the plots of "The Audacity of Hope," "Love, Absolutely," and "Give Me Back My Goat-Boy: The Nancy Hernandez-Vanderbilt Story"—all products of sleep-deprived student playwrights in WiRED.

Produced by the Department of Theater as part of its student production program, WiRED was created in 2003 by Sabrina Peric '03 and takes place once per term.

The task is both straightforward and difficult: write, cast, rehearse, and perform three one-act plays within a 24-hour period.

On the weekend of Oct. 25, students from all areas of the College gathered for WiRED. To ensure that the plays are written spontaneously, each session has a surprise rule that must be written into the plays. On Friday evening, the writers were given this term's rule: each play had to contain at least one non-human character.

They set to work, writing through the night until actors arrived Saturday morning to rehearse the fresh manuscripts. That same evening, the three plays were performed to a packed house in Bentley Theater.

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Christopher Whitehead '12 plays to the crowd in WiRED. (Photo by Jennifer Argote '10)

Tyler Quinn '10 considers the event a highlight of his experience at Dartmouth. As an English major, he finds writing for WiRED different from any exercise he would encounter in class: "There are really no rules—except, obviously, the ONE rule. There is also no grade. You're accountable to a whole new set of people: your actors, your audience, yourself."

Professor of Theater Daniel Kotlowitz says, "WiRED is a great way for students to have a really quick and fun theater experience. Sometimes the results are terrific and sometimes not, but it is always highly charged and exciting."

Production Manager Annabel Seymour '09 has been involved in WiRED every term since arriving at Dartmouth. "The program improves every time we do it," she says. "We've developed a protocol—but on the other hand, we never know what to expect."

There was a shortage of actors on Saturday morning, but Seymour was unconcerned: "It's almost more fun when things get hectic because we realize the true nature of the program, which is to do what you can with limited time and resources."

Sharang Biswas '12, an actor, agrees. "The emphasis was on enjoying ourselves, and not on delivering stellar performances." Biswas relished his role as Dr. Yang, an evil lipstick researcher in "Give Me Back My Goat-Boy."

"It gave me the chance to be cold and scornful, something I normally wouldn't be," he says. An engineering sciences student, he was also enthusiastic about the opportunity to participate in theater: "I can act in plays while studying about inertial frames of reference! That's what's great about Dartmouth: students are encouraged to take part in activities outside their majors."

By ELIZABETH KELSEY

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/8/08