Undergraduate Research: Theater Studies 2011/2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Humanities Writ Large

Ragtime, the musical, ran in Reynolds Theater April 5-15, 2012. It was a collaboration between the Departments of Theater Studies, Music, Dance and the student groups Hoof 'n' Horn and Duke Chamber Players. It was also Nathaniel Hill's senior distinction project.

“We selected Ragtime because of its profound relevance in 2012,” says student producer Nathaniel Hill.  “By re-examining the Ragtime era through a modern eye, our faculty dramaturg Jules Odendahl-James seeks to show students how they can connect the events from the musical to issues they see in the news today, such as wealth distribution, racial inequality and even celebrity tabloid culture.”

Ali Yalgin of the Department of Theater Studies directed August Strindberg’s Creditors as his senior distinction project. 

“Strindberg's journey to the darker parts of the human soul put Creditors on my radar,” says Yalgin. “In the centenary year of Strindberg's death, it seemed to be appropriate to visit his fears and frustration, common to most of us, in an intimate and claustrophobic setting.”

When Theater Studies presented Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, the play was the senior distinction project for four students.

The student director and actors explored the themes of mendacity, death and greed in this story that revolves around an impending death, a troubled marriage, and a family that epitomizes the term “dysfunctional.”

Kim Solow: Distinction - Directing
Jennifer Blocker: Highest Distinction - Acting
Kyler Griffin: Distinction - Acting
Kirsten Johanssen: Distinction - Acting

Theater Studies student Mandy Lowell translated and directed a reading of The Mary Play for her senior distinction project.

“Even within medieval theater, the Mary Play is unique in many ways,” says Lowell.  “It has a grander scale and scope than most of its pageant-style fellows, it features more than twenty characters, and it is centered around Mary rather than Christ.  Its expressions of pain and joy – long-awaited parenthood, marriage, redemption, finding one’s purpose – should resonate long after we have abandoned the presentational pageant as the primary mode of theater.”