Slippery Rock professor debuts her first full length play on campus

Published by adviser, Author: Nina Bracci - Asst. Campus Life Editor, Date: October 18, 2016

A Slippery Rock professor debuted her written play, ‘December Things’, Friday in the Student Union Theater where it will play through Thursday and also feature talk back sessions concerning aspects of the play.

Theater Professor, Deanna Brookens, said that ‘December Things’ is her first full length play, although she has written shorter stories in the past.

She has been involved in theater since she was young and received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in theater. Brookens is an SRU Alumni and this is her fourth year teaching theater classes at the university.

“I wrote this play because I love people. I love being a person. It’s a strange and wonderful thing to be alive and capable of love and pain and fear and hope,” Brookens said.

The plot of the play came along after Brookens had an image of a woman standing on stage by herself who looked quite sad. Suddenly there was another creature peeking out and at the snap of her fingers music came on which led the girl to start responding and to feel much better, Brookens said.

The play turned out to feature five characters where two are office employees who are both struggling with something. A female character is seen to be trying to bounce back from something dark and a male character is trying to figure out his place in life, Brookens said.

“They work in this office with a capitalist warlord with a vendetta against joy who’s this deliciously angry guy who’s really oppressive and cares a great deal about selling the products at their warehouse,” Brookens said.

Two other characters that are also present and are seen to be guardian angel figures whom the audience never discoveries where they are from.

Brookens said that she thinks all of us would agree that the way we can best navigate challenges in our lives is with the people that are in our lives and the people surround us.

“For me it became a story of expressing that thought and it all started with that one image,” Brookens said.

Brookens said the main message she wants to get across is to be good to one another.

She said that most significantly, she wrote this play because she hates seeing people suffer in ways that she believes can actually be avoided.

“They’re great people who are trying their best to be good to other people and to lead a life that is compassionate and loving but they’re trapped in the system they’re in.

The first draft of the play took the professor a year to write. She held a reading with students and changed many aspect around and wrote a second draft. It has now been almost two years since the playwright’s first draft.

Laura Smiley took on the role as the director of the play.  However, Brookens appeared at some of the auditions and rehearsals. She said she tried not to be an imposing figure and wanted the director to have free reign of the show.

Brookens said that the show was a fast and furious process once roles were casted and she wanted to write it and see what somebody else could do with it. The cast asked her questions and she would offer feedback.

“It’s really fun because when you’re not directing your own work there are things that the cast discovers that you didn’t even realize was there and it’s a totally different perspective,” Brookens said.

December Things is also featuring two talk back events on Monday and Tuesday evening at 9:30pm in the Student Union held by Gender Studies professor, Cindy Lacom.


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