The great playwright William Shakespeare wrote his first play when he was roughly 25 years old. Senior Shelby Vander Molen has outdone him by writing her first complete play at the young age of 21.
The play is entitled “Some Five Women” and follows the stories of five women as they live and learn about life.
Vander Molen started writing the play last spring for a theater class. She said that she did it because she had to, and through the writing process the plot and the characters were invented.
“The thing that is so hard about writing a play is that it’s not like a research paper where if you get stuck you can do more research,” Vander Molen said. “If I got stuck writing this play I just had to think of something.”
When writing a play, there is no right answer. Vander Molen said she did a lot of experimenting with different types of characters.
“You can’t get too attached to any character or scene in your play because chances are you are going to change it,” Vander Molen said.
Vander Molen followed a nontraditional writing process. She didn’t write in chronological order. Rather, she wrote many different scenes then put them in order to thread everything together.
Last summer Vander Molen sent copies of the script to some of her friends including, student director of the play junior Megan Weidner.
Weidner said she wanted to direct the play because she had directed a one-act of Vander Molen’s last year and really enjoyed the experience.
The thing that sets “Some Five Women” apart is that it is a completely student-initiated project. This means there were no professors from the theater department involved in casting, production or practices.
Weidner said one of the fun things about directing this play was working with community members. Three of the five characters are not students at Northwestern. However, this element of the play presented some challenges.
“It’s a completely different challenge directing people who don’t really know each other as opposed to directing peers,” Weidner said.
Weidner said that despite the many challenges that come with directing, she loves it because she gets to work with a cast and make the script come to life through the different characters.
Vander Molen and Weidner’s goal was to develop characters who seem real and are able to communicate the ideas in the play to the audience.
“Some Five Women” tries to unveil the raw humanity under each character’s struggle with the pressures of society or families.
“This play is about coming into your own element and finding yourself and realizing it’s OK to be who you are,” Weidner said.
This play has no main character; rather the five characters have a group voice. Everyone who comes to the play will relate to a different character because the characters have universal stories that have all happened to people at some point in their lives.
Vander Molen is very excited because “Some Five Women” has been nominated to be a participant in the upcoming Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festivalin Lincoln, Neb. Vander Molen will find out within the next few months if her play will have the honor of being performed in the festival.
Overall, Vander Molen and Weidner said they are very pleased with how “Some Five Women” has turned out and the message it sends.
“A good play makes you think, and ‘Some Five Women’ does just that,” Weidner said.
“Some Five Women” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, in the England Theatre of the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center. Admission is free, and seating is first-come, first-served.