Students create original production: ‘Cornell-o-drama’

Cornell College students are writing their own play, and it’s set to hit the stage Feb. 22–25.Poster advertising "Cornell-o-drama"

The student-led production is called “Cornell-o-drama,” and has been developed completely from scratch. This style of creating an original show is called devised theatre, which is a class taught at Cornell every other year.

“We went into it with a specific idea of a classic Western melodrama,” said Director Rosemary Vigil ’19. “You have a villain, a hero, a damsel, and it’s set in the Old West. We took that basic layout, and we made it our own story.”

The group auditioned at the beginning of the semester, decided on a storyline, and started working on character development. Then, they outlined scene guidelines as they developed the plot, used improv to come up with lines, and had the director polish the script.

Anna Genrich ’18, who plays the role of Monsieur Carlos Fredrick Johanson, the town villain, is enjoying every minute of the process, even though the time limits for getting everything done can be tough.

“The most fun part of the show has been being able to create something new with a cast of kind people,” Genrich said.

A big part of the script-writing process focused on creating a teachable moment in their devised play.

“We thought about what we wanted to teach our peers,” Vigil said. “We decided on a theme: We all need to allow people to make mistakes and forgive them. We also need to allow ourselves to make mistakes and forgive ourselves too.”

“I hope the audience walks away with a restored sense of faith in themselves and each other,” Genrich added.

Vigil says the plot is cartoonish and ridiculous, and the audience will get the opportunity to be involved.

“The audience can also throw ping-pong balls at the actors.” Vigil says “They throw them when they don’t like something. I like the idea of the audience getting to feel like they are affecting the story and being part of the world.”

“Cornell-o-drama” shows Feb. 22, 23, and 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. in Kimmel Theatre on the Cornell College campus. The shows are free and open to the public.

The production will include limited lighting and will take place on the apron of the stage. The Student Theatre Council works to fill the stage with shows, such as this one, in between the bigger productions by the Department of Theatre and Dance. Their goal is to provide theatre opportunities to students that they feel they aren’t getting with the mainstage productions.