student art in the library

A theatre professor developed a very creative project for her Acting I class. Students select a character from a play and, through research and inventiveness, develop a full biography of the person. Usually students write the biography; the past few semesters the professor has allowed them to respond through artwork.

The professor used our artists’ books from Special Collections to inspire the students to think differently about writing and presenting a character bio. Here are some of the interpretations from last semester’s students.

Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gilman

According to the student’s statement, the play is about stalking. The main character is Edward, a magazine editor, who is divorced yet always thinking about his ex-wife. The student wrote letters from Edward to the ex, Claudia, that verge on stalking. However, as Edward grows, he realizes how is letters may be perceived. In the end we learn he never sent the letters.

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

The student of this project said, “Trying to describe the story of Septimus…through an essay seemed unjust and partial.” Instead, he created a mixed CD with 12 songs. Each song represents moments in Septimus’ life.

Brainpeople by Jose Rivera
Brainpeople by Jose Rivera

This work is based on the character Rosemary who has multiple personalities.

The Unwanted by Walter Wykes
The Unwanted by Walter Wykes

This is the psychiatric file of Dan. He’s trying to initiate a relationship but the suicide of his girlfriend weighs on his consciousness.

Ballad of Yachiyo by Philip Kan Gotanda
Ballad of Yachiyo by Philip Kan Gotanda

Based on real life events in Gotanda’s family, the play is about young Yachiyo falling in love with her older relative, Okusan. This artist book is the diary of Yachiyo.

The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman
The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman

Based on life and death of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who was the victim of a homophobic hate crime in 1998. This collage is covered in a black veil to represent mourning.

Doubt by John Patrick Shanley
Doubt by John Patrick Shanley

Throughout the play, we are never sure if Father Flynn is guilty of pedophila. Here, the student created a hidden compartment in a book. In it, Flynn has kept mementos from a high school basketball team, children’s drawings, and more. Viewing the work, we are still left in doubt.