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The Tricky Business of Choosing a Play

Trying to decide on what play to produce for this project, we wrestled long and hard and examined many many scripts. Similar projects—most producing paper designs only—have used classic scripts and other titles in the public domain. It surely makes access easier. But we just weren’t excited by canonical works for this particular competition. So we started looking at contemporary scripts. And we went through a number of titles again.

See, the play had to provide opportunities to fit our program and the competition’s needs. It needed to provide good opportunities for our well of student actors. It needed to provide creative, contemporary design opportunities for designers around the world to get excited and inspired by. It needed to be an opportunity for director Cindy Gendrich to really flex her directing skills and guide an exciting production. And, well, it had to be good!

So many titles and manuscripts went through our hands and scrolled through our computer screens in a search for a play to meet these needs; to provide these opportunities. We considered a number of good plays and were encouraged by the wealth of good playwriting being done in this century. But so many had “issues.” Some casts were too small; the demand of penny-watching regional theatres. Some plots were such good character pieces that too much spectacle on the design side might work against the core of the play. There were plenty of good reasons that a play wasn’t quite right. Then we decided to explore some of Lauren Gunderson’s plays.

Wake Forest University Theatre has a history with Gunderson, producing her 2010 play Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight, in the Spring of 2012. Like Silent Sky, Emilie is another history-based play about an unsung woman of scientific import. Winston-Salem was treated when Lauren joined us for a few days to speak with the cast, classes, the production team, as well as audiences, and proved as charming and engaging as her play. Ever since, her plays have regularly been in consideration for our mainstage seasons, year in and year out.

So, who exactly is Lauren Gunderson? In the next update, we will tell you exactly who she is and why we are so excited to have her and her play be a part of this project.

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