Drama 210 students at the University of Washington finished their quarter projects last week. Students worked in teams to build set design models for the contemporary play Magnificent Waste by Caridad Svich. But instead of gathering inspiration from the script alone, students were able to Skype with Svich, to ask questions at the beginning of the quarter and show her the finished product at the end. For most students in the class, the interaction via Skype made a big difference in their project processes. Sarah Sutin, a pre-architecture student, had this to say about the experience:
When I first read the play I was taken aback at all the immorality and how toxic the characters seem. My picture of the story was bleak. But speaking to the playwright broke my own conceptions and let me see some soul to the story that I had been too shocked to accept. It brought the characters and their world into a more touchable reality.
Their professor, Robert Mark Morgan, has worked with numerous playwrights in the past–many of whom are always eager to be a part of the project. He makes a point to select contemporary writers who take on current issues, or what he calls “the theater of tomorrow”. Both Morgan and his students agree that there is value in this face-to-face communication, as well as extra incentive to do well on the project.