Suspended, an honors thesis production written and performed by Brooke Goldner ‘19, will be shown at the Bentley Theater on May 24 and 25 at 9 pm each night. I asked Brooke some questions about the show:
MJ: What was the origin of the project?
BG: Before writing Suspended, I had only ever written comedic sketches or funny ideas that I never fully fleshed out and the idea of sharing them with anyone would have absolutely terrified me. I started writing this project after I proposed a completely different show for my thesis. I actually find myself so grateful every single day that I’m working on this piece, that the department urged me to go in a different direction. I think that was the ultimate push that I needed to finally write my own work, with the intention of actually sharing it with an audience. So that’s the background, and then I began the process on my study abroad with the theater department at LAMDA. The story ultimately took the shape of a girl in an acting class who is kind of a smart ass and doesn’t take any of her teacher’s exercises seriously, because she doesn’t see the point. Her teacher in turn questions her future as an actress and suggests that something is in the way, between her and her characters. If she wants to stay in the class or have any future success as an actress, she’d better figure out what it is. I wrote the first scene in a notebook at the Tower of London (which I just think is a cool anecdote). That’s why the framework of the show takes place in an acting class. Every day, I would go to the rehearsal room and hear these crazy exercises and I wasn’t really sure if I was doing any of it “correctly” or why I was even there, because I obviously couldn’t act as well as these other people. My script was born out of that self-consciousness, uncertainty and guardedness, and diving more into what was behind that for me.
MJ: What was your writing and creative process like?
BG: My writing process was brand new to me, because this is the first piece that I have followed through to the end and haven’t given up on. I worked on the script as part of an independent study with Laura Edmondson in the fall. She encouraged me to just bring in new pages every week – it didn’t matter what they were about or how many I had, as long as I was writing. So, I guess, the most productive lesson I learned was not to judge the content while writing. I wrote down everything that was on my mind and everything that scared me. Someone once told me that you should write the story that scares you the most to write. So, I paid special attention to these topics that I would get to in my writing even though my brain was saying, “Don’t write that, that’s stupid,” or “Don’t you know your teachers have to read this? And your parents are going to come and see it?” I just kind of had to get over all of that if I wanted the show to be good and honest. And after I wrote all of those scenes and lines that I absolutely adored, I had to learn how to cut them.
MJ: What does the finished piece convey that is important to you?
BG: I think I’ve always been kind of a private person. I tell my business to my close friends and my family because I don’t want to bother other people with it, usually. This piece is so important to me, because it’s truly just me. There’s nothing to hide behind. I think it took me a long time in this process to decide how much personal information to put on the stage, which wound up being a lot. This show balances my love for writing comedy while also delving into some of the more serious moments in my life. I think that this piece will resonate with other people who may have gone through similar events in their lives. Or maybe we just find the same things funny. And both are great.
MJ: What have been some rewarding moments so far?
BG: I think finishing the first full draft of the script was one of the most accomplished feelings I’ve ever had, honestly. I also did an initial reading of the script at the end of fall term, for some of my closest friends and advisors, and the reception was really exciting. The script has changed a lot since then, and starting rehearsals has been a big step. Other than that, I can’t really point to specific moments, but what I can say is that my support system throughout this process has been very rewarding for me. I think it becomes easy, while working on a solo show, to feel isolated in your writing, but my friends have been so incredible and they made me feel less boxed in throughout my writing and rehearsal process. I’m really grateful for all of them.