Senior Emily Terrell has been consistently involved with the theater productions on campus. However, she went the extra mile this spring and wrote her own play to be performed by her fellow students. The fruits of her labor, called "At the Diner," will premier this weekend, the first student-produced play to be performed in at least 30 years.
Inspired by the Greek myth of Io, which tells the story of one of the many women pursued by the god Zeus, Terrell's play modernizes the story by setting it at a small-town diner in Indiana. Terrell said the play focuses on the theme of "fate versus free will." Terrell originally wrote the play for a class called "Writing for the Stage, Screen and TV" her junior year.
"I had a Greek-heavy semester," Terrell said. "I was working on my theater history paper, which was a W class, and I was writing about why people still care about Greek theater. The year before, I went to Greece on Winter Term, and I found myself writing plays on Greece and based on myths."
Terrell said her professor Steve Timm of the communications departmentl, who is also Terrell's adviser, approached her after she showed him the play and asked her if she would mind if he put the play on stage the following year.
"Steve sent me an e-mail that said ‘I brought something up to the department that would take your approval and commitment,'" she said. "And I went in to see him and he said ‘I told them I wanted to direct your play.' It was pure excitement at that point."
"I was impressed with the potential of the play as Emily developed the idea during my writing class," Timm said. "The interest coincided with a decision to return to directing and producing new plays."
As the play began to come to life at the beginning of this semester, Terrell said she realized her vision for the play changed as she watched the actors discover their parts.
"I don't even remember what my vision was," she said. "Now, I identify [junior] Arielle Brosman, who plays Io, I identify her so much and all her idiosyncrasies and everything she brings to the character is what I see now with the character. It's hard to recognize the play without all the people who worked with it."
Terrell said she enjoyed the process greatly, and even has a play she wrote premiering in the Playwrights' Festival later this month. She hopes to continue writing plays in the future.
"I still love writing plays," she said. "I don't know what I'm doing next year, but hopefully some type of theater comes into play. I'd love to keep playwriting, even as a hobby."
Terrell was very thankful for all the hard work that the cast and crew put into the play to help her work come to life onstage. She also hopes students in particular will come out and see the play performed, as she feels that the struggles central to the play's theme are typical of college students. And her fellow students were happy to contribute to the effort.
Senior Jackie Keyes said "It's so cool. I've worked on a couple new plays at DePauw, so it's always a learning experience, but it was an honor to let Emily see her first play on stage."
"I'm really lucky to have Steve as an advisor," Terrell said. "He taught me so much about writing and being an artist and been very critical in necessary ways. The cast and crew are great. I think people should come out to see the show because these people are really close to our age, and the struggles that they deal with and the feelings of helplessness are echoes of my own experiences. They can probably identify with these same experiences."