Student-written drama in the bedroom? Nah, on the stage

There’s never been so much student drama at Yale, at least according to five student playwrights interviewed on campus. No, not the catty, reality-show kind of drama — at least that’s not what they said. Rather, they’re speaking of student plays: pieces acted, directed, produced and written by our bulldog classmates. WEEKEND caught up with a handful of playwrights on campus whose works you can expect to find on a stage in the upcoming weeks.

Ethan Kuperberg ’11

Kuperberg, famous on campus for his small afro and big drama portfolio, said he has been working in the theater and film community in some capacity since high school.

In two weeks, he will be directing “Handwriting,” a piece handwritten by Kuperberg’s friend and classmate Jay Dockendorf ’11. (Dockendorf is a WEEKEND editor.) The five-person show is a “surreal take on Americana,” Kuperberg explained, adding that the plot follows two illiterate children whose family hires a writing tutor to prepare them for the SATs. Though a location has yet to be pegged for the show, Kuperberg said the piece is set to go up.

During the last week of October, Kuperberg will also be seeing the production of his own piece, “Pecking Wild,” which is in turn being directed by Dockendorf. Yes, these cheeky guys are directing each others’ works.

Bromance? Perhaps not. Kuperberg explained the relationship as, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Matthew George ’11

George gained mainstream notoriety on campus last semester for his part in a string of YouTube hits, from a brief cameo in CoCo Pannell’s ’11 YCC Presidential campaign clip to a starring role in “Gon’ Kiss Girls Tonight,” a piece he realized with frequent collaborators William Stephen ’11 and Kuperberg.

Now a dorm room name, George is directing the senior project of fellow classmate Sam Bolen ’11 this weekend. It’s worth nothing that Bolen didn’t write the piece, titled “Thom Pain (Based on nothing),” but it is now up at the Whitney Theatre in the Whitney Humanities Center.

The weekend after, however, George will be overseeing the production of his own work, “Cow Play,” which is set to hit the stage of the Whitney Theatre as well. George summarized the show with just four keywords: brothers, a woman, cows and love.

“I worked at a dairy farm this summer,” George noted.

Oren Stevens ’11

Starting October 7 to 9, Stevens — a longtime participant in the Yale Dramat with more than a dozen credits under his belt — will be seeing his piece, “Phantomwise,” be produced on the stage of the legendary Yale Repertory Theatre. The play is an official Dramat production and is the second student-written play to get the Dramat’s support in recent memory, after George’s “Commandments” was produced last spring.

“Phantomwise” follows the story of Alice Liddell, the English beauty who was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” The play weaves together the true story of Liddell’s life with the children’s classic tale, traveling between fantasy and reality.

For Stevens, though, the reality of putting together a student production is nothing to be confused with fantasy. Even with the great amount of work involved, Stevens said there is more than enough support on campus to help projects take off.

“You just have to put together a team!”

Zeke Blackwell ’13 and Jacob Paul ’13

Blackwell and Paul, friends, had been mulling over the idea of staging a play together since last semester. Over the summer, they worked on their individual pieces and readied them for production. Come October 14, the pair will see their plays produced, potentially at Nick Chapel in Trumbull College.

“When It Rains It Pours,” Blackwell’s work, and “In Her Absence,” Paul’s work, will measure half an hour each and share a cast. One story is about a group of abandoned children who have to come to terms with their orphaned situations and a really heavy thunderstorm. The other play is about a pair of brothers who come to find their father and wade through their entangled relationships without a mother. If you can’t figure out which play is which, WEEKEND suggests you attend the shows and ask the actors backstage afterward or something. Good luck with life.

Tickets for all of these shows can be reserved on the website of the Yale Drama Coalition.

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