No winners in cancelled collaboration
By Mercedes Deutscher, Staff Writer
For 10 years at Douglas College, the students of Creative Writing 1102 – Intro to Playwriting have collaborated with the Theatre program to bring the students’ original works to the stage. It has been a rewarding experience that has benefitted both writers and actors, like an artistic family reunion.
But not this year.
It was recently announced that the Theatre Department has opted out of the annual collaboration due to struggles in meeting departmental demands. It’s unclear what the specific demands are, but they could be due to a lack of funding or time, or the work of new playwrights being less attractive than publicized and notable works.
“I am disappointed that the Theatre Department (to the best of my knowledge) continues to use scripts that have been either repeatedly used in past productions or are written by professional playwrights,” said William Sandwith, a Theatre student who is also enrolled in Intro to Playwriting.
Whatever the reason may be, the cancellation of this event is a disappointment for Intro to Playwriting students. A major project in the course involves writing and editing a 20-page, one-act play, which in turn is supposed to be presented on stage. The performance is intended to give playwrights a chance to see their work performed for the first time and help them grow as writers, which is why the students are disheartened by the cancellation.
But it’s not only Creative Writing students who are affected by this decision. Theatre students have also lost the opportunity to work with new scripts and playwrights.
“While I understand that there is a fair amount of risk involved with using works written by students,” explained Sandwith, “I believe that the script should not be treated as a potential liability, but as a challenge. I love working with an original play! It gives the actor a much wider variety of ways to interpret the text, respecting the original author’s wishes, of course.”
At this point in time, it is difficult to tell if this decision is a one-time occurrence or if this is the beginning of a separation of the two courses.
“I would think that student collaboration would be encouraged more frequently by faculty so that we, the student body, would have the opportunity to engage in human interaction and social bonding while working towards a common goal,” said Sandwith.
For now, the students of Intro to Playwriting will have to settle for their plays being workshop productions in class, while Theatre students continue working with scripts handled a little too often.