USI community collaborates at playwriting workshop


Junior philosophy and theatre major Andrea Morgan Doyle reads lines for one of the plays presented by the STAGEtwo Playwriting Workshop participants and community actors. Dale wrote a play that her fellow students performed at the event Friday evening.

When Andrea Morgan Dale heard her professor speak about Plato’s “Symposium” and the philosophy of love last fall, she knew she had to write about it.

“My play, ‘The Philosophy of Love,’ is about two philosophy professors who fall in love,” the junior philosophy and theatre major said. “They debate about what love is and what it’s supposed to be.”

Dale participated in the STAGEtwo Productions Playwriting Workshop this summer, under the leadership of English instructor Alice Shen. Actors performed excerpts of Dale’s play and five others produced out of the workshop at the university Friday evening.

“The two don’t know it, but they’re in love with each other,” Dale said. “The male professor is actually married.”

Two university students, juniors Cristine Pyle and Brock Murray, read the parts for the two characters Dale created.

“I think (playwriting) is really interesting,” Murray, a criminal justice major, said. “People are motivated to do it by different things, and it’s cool that people in this area are motivated to put their efforts into this art.”

Dale started working on “The Philosophy of Love” before the workshop, so she and Murray had already read through her script for different audiences.

Photo by Gabi Wy
Junior art and international studies major Cristine Pyle and junior criminal justice major Brock Murray read an excerpt from fellow student Andrea Morgan Dale’s play, “The Philosophy of Love” at the university Friday evening.

“I have a feeling the character was based on me,” Murray said with a laugh. “He’s jaded and egotistical.”

Murray, who is also a theatre minor, said he appreciates all of the acting and collaboration that took place at the workshop.

“I think more than anything I love the passion people have for this,” he said. “I’m moved by how interesting it is.”

Workshop leader Alice Shen also presented a one-act play she wrote, titled “Second Skin.” The play follows three longtime friends as they travel to a tattoo parlor and delve into their inner selves. University professors Molly Brost and Stephanie Young lent their voices to characters fellow faculty member Shen created.

“Through the month of July we’ve been doing this workshop,” Shen said. “We started with reading, and then had several days of writing…we had workshops, we brought drafts in and gave each other feedback.”

STAGEtwo asked Shen to lead the overall workshop, and she was onboard immediately.

“Everybody was so open to suggestions,” she said. “We shared kind but constructive criticisms to make our plays the best they can be.”

Shen said the workshop was a great way to foster creativity.

“In community theatre, we have so much collaboration,” she said. “It’s a way that we keep telling our own stories.”

Shen said community theatre is vital in the community, and she was thrilled to see USI be a part of it.

“People talk about how there’s nothing new in the movies, but that’s okay, we can come up with our own stories and collaborate,” she said. “We have original content.”