Theatre seniors craft poignant retellings of novels for theses

J Frank/The Mossy Log

Thesis season is in full swing at Lewis & Clark, with students in many departments working hard on completing their final projects before they graduate.
Fir Acres Theatre in particular is bustling with activity, even more than usual, as graduating theatre majors work on their big
culminating projects. 

Seniors are doing everything from choreographing dance pieces to creating shows from the ground up. They are all working to bring their visions to life one last time at LC in performances that are truly their own. 

Phoenix Cox ’24 adapted his thesis show from Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles” along with a script he found online. Through this mythological story, he is putting a spotlight on desexualized queer and trans relationships.

“I want to tell a queer and trans story where queer and trans people are allowed to just be. They are allowed to love and lose and fight and mourn,” Cox said. “I really want this piece to highlight that there are different ways to be a man; you can be a Greek god, tall, golden-haired, strong man, but you also don’t have to be a Grecian god to be a man — you can be more emotional and on the sidelines, and still be seen as just as much of a man as a warrior.”

Cox is the lead artist of this piece and is also playing the lead role of Patroclus. Because the cast is so small, he selected a non-senior, Ava Lockwood ’26 to direct his play and help shoulder the burden of running rehearsals. Lockwood also has an unique attachment with the material of the show.

“It just is about queer love,
un-hypersexualized queer love, which is important to me,” Lockwood said. “In wider social media, queer relationships are often tokenized; You have really
in-depth tellings of other characters and queer characters in the show are just like ‘the gay guy,’ and that’s all you get about their character. Our show is not about the fact that they are two gay characters, but it’s about how these two humans are just so in love with each other, the other half of one another. It touches on the intricacies that we don’t get to see in greater media.”

Two seniors pairing up for a thesis project is another option in the theatre department; usually, one person directs and the other plays the lead role in the show. Skylar Vayda ’24 and Ruby Keyes ’24 are creating an adapted version of “Misery,” a stage play based on the novel by Stephen King. Vayda is directing, and Keyes is starring as Annie. The team is using this show as a statement on common stereotypes about women, specifically women of color, in the media. 

“What drew me to (this show) is the way that it positions women in fandom, and the positions that a lot of female fans have in bolstering the careers of creatives, especially male creatives,” said Vayda. “Their fandoms are usually, depending on what genre they cater to, entirely made up of AFAB people and women. It’s about the relationship dynamic and tension between the author of a piece, who can at times degrade their audience if they are of the ‘wrong demographic,’ and the audience themselves who take back ownership of the content that they love and create a beautiful culture around work.”

It was Keyes who had the idea of doing this piece for a thesis, as she got attached to the story after reading King’s original novel.

“I felt like Annie deserved a better story than she got, so I really liked the idea of doing the play from her lens, with her as the ‘hero’ in a way,” said Keyes. “In starting to re-read the book, and taking notes on it, I noticed that the characterization of Annie brings up feelings of animosity towards women that I don’t think are intentional but are there. What we’re focusing on is mostly our take on it, our reading of it, and the way that we felt
about the work.”

This year’s theatre thesis lineup has so many interesting shows, including horror plays, musicals and long-form dances. To see all of the shows, be sure to go to both Evening A and B. Tickets will be available soon on the Theatre department’s website, so prepare to show up and support your peers majoring in theatre!

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