Brown University’s Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies graduate program is at once highly selective and highly intensive. From January 31 to March 2, students in the demanding three-year M.F.A. program have a chance to present their work to the public in the month-long festival. This year marks the fourth annual Writing Is Live festival, which is free and open to the public. It takes place throughout the campus at several locations including Rites & Reasons Theatre and Carriage House.
Third year graduate students will present fully produced performances of their work. Second year students present their plays as works with fewer trappings of production; their pieces are considered to be “in progress,” or still in development. First year students will also have a chance for presentation of their work through staged readings.
Charlotte Thomas-Davison, Brown’s Publicity Manager says, “It is vital for the students to present their work to an audience.” Feedback in many forms is necessary. “The audience is part of the creative exercise.” The mission of the department is to demonstrate that writing is not an inert exercise. It is happening right now; it is live.
Margaret Namulyanga, a third year who is from Uganda, has already garnered international accolades. Her play, Here Is Here He Says I Say, is based on the cultural experience of women in Uganda. “In a society where the roles of a woman are predetermined by norms and customs, Ruth [the protagonist] has to affirm her worth,” Thomas-Davidson explains. This well-developed piece is a poetic meditation on what is a ‘good’ woman is in a particular milieu.
Victor Cazares, a third year who grew up in El Paso, Texas and San Lorenzo, Mexico, takes an anarchistic view of theater through his work and hopes one day to make a telenovela in which the antagonist wins. Already the author of many produced plays, his current piece is titled Ramses Contra Los Monstrous (Ramses versus the Monster). Cazares’ play is visceral, with strong emotions and violence. His protagonist is haunted by the reality surrounding the volatile southern border area that continues to be so complex. It is for mature audiences only.
A full schedule is available at writingislive.com. Reserve your ticket online and take advantage of these engaging free performances.