The theater department offers a vast array of productions for students to participate in and see, but none are as unique to Northwestern as the World Premiere Festival, which will take place March 26 and 27 at 7 p.m.
The one-act plays were written this fall for a playwriting class that allows students to explore their inner playwright and get hands-on experience in all realms of theater.
“They need to see their work on its feet, so to speak,” theater professor Karen Barker said.
Senior Susan Schoenrock did not want to take this required class. She thought she would need to come up with a completely original story. However, as the class progressed, her perspective began to change.
“The class focused on not being original,” Shoenrock said. “Really, no storyline is original. Rather, using your own voice and resources makes a piece original. That freed me a lot, and I ended up loving the class.”
Schoenrock drew upon a friend’s woes about the difficulties of asking a girl on a date to create her play. Another playwright, junior Aleah Stenberg, used childhood experiences of fishing with her grandpa for her inspiration.
“I had a very clear image of Skipper Island in my head and the memories just flowed from there and lent themselves to my story,” Stenberg said.
After the plays were written, students applied to direct the plays, and then actors auditioned for the roles. In most cases, the playwrights are not involved in the actual production of their plays.
“This is helpful for the playwrights to see how their work is perceived and performed,” Stenberg said.
Barker said she enjoys seeing the plays come into fruition as they go through the directing process.
“One of the things I really love is seeing what the directors do with the scripts,” she said. “I read them, but what I see on the stage is never exactly what it is in my head because each director brings his or her own aesthetic and creativity to the project.”
Because the plays are written by students mostly for a student audience, NW students can take away a variety of messages from this weekend’s performances.
“None of us are Shakespeare or Chekhov or Tom Stoppard, but there are very good plays being presented this weekend,” Stenberg said. “There will be budding romances, laughs, and maybe even some tears throughout the night. The point is for us, as authors, to get feedback on our work from the audience as well as watch our own work be performed. And, hopefully, it is entertaining.”