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Students explore playwriting in zero-budget, black box series

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Myia Eren, who is one of the co-writers of ‘Flight’ — a production set to featured in OSU’s Lab Series.  Credit: Courtesy of Myia Eren

Myia Eren, who is one of the co-writers of ‘Flight’ — a production set to featured in OSU’s Lab Series.
Credit: Courtesy of Myia Eren

Inspired by the Sutton Foster song, “Flight,” second-years in theater Myia Eren and Hannah Halischak wrote a play that will be performed March 10 as part of the Department of Theatre’s spring Lab Series line-up.

The Lab Series is an initiative by the department that gives students freedom to develop a theatrical work and perform it on campus, as long as their work does not require funding.

“Being able to get your ideas on paper and present them to people who are genuinely interested in is very rewarding,” said Halischak, who also majors in strategic communication.

Assistant professor Jennifer Schlueter began the series in 2011. Over that time, the Lab Series has done 70 productions as a part of the series, 45 of which have been completely student written or created.

Schlueter said in an email that each semester students propose projects for the Lab Series to a committee made up of staff members and student representatives involved in the series.

“Together, they select from the proposals, and then I and my Lab Series production manager craft a season that balances development with full stagings, undergraduate with graduate voices,” she said.

“It’s really anything student run, student directed,” Eren said. “There’s no budget, and you can submit absolutely anything — new work, or an idea. It can be as long or as short as you want. It can be a solo performance, or a work that you’ve found that you want to see staged.”

The Department of Theatre plays an important role, Schlueter said, by providing a production manager and technical support, as well as paying for production rights for published plays, hard copies of scripts for plays in process and access to the department’s prop storage.

“I also contribute my time,” Schlueter said, “as a professional playwright and director, to steering the process, mentoring students, and leading post-show conversations. That last bit is really critical, I think, because our goal is to get productive feedback on how these pieces are working to the student creators.”

Constance Hester, a second-year in theater, is directing a short play written by Anna Gorisch called “The Individuality of Streetlamps” that will be performed on March 2 and 3. It is a play about love and love lost between a man and a woman.

“This experience has allowed me to get up and practice what I’ve learned and gives me a chance to make my directing debut,” Hester said.

Emily Kacsandi, fourth-year in theater, is writing and directing her own play called “There’s No Such Thing As a Slow News Day” that will be performed Feb. 23 and 24.

“It’s just kind of an idea I’ve had for a while. It’s about positivity,” Kacsandi said. “We get a lot of our information from the newsroom, and it’s all inherently negative.”

“Flight,” “The Individuality of Streetlamps,” “There’s No Such Thing as a Slow News Day” and most of the Lab Series will be performed at the New Works Lab in a black box theater.

Eren, who also majors in journalism, said there is no real stage, rather, the audience surrounds the performers and everyone is on an equal level.

“It’s really focused on the work itself,” Eren said.

Halischak said that although the stage is small, it is a flexible space.

“It seats about 50 or so,” Halischak said. “It’s got four curtains that pull around the entire room, so you can set up the audience how you would like.”

The complete Lab Series schedule can be found on the Department of Theatre’s website.

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