Sarah Duffett ’17 is the managing director of BARD, The Brandeis Association of Rising Dramatists. BARD hosts weekly workshops, some led by professional playwrights, to which students can bring their original pieces. By creating the space for creative reflection, BARD aims to help students develop their skills as playwrights and collaborators, as well as to produce the highest quality level of material possible. 

justArts: Can you quickly summarize what BARD is?

SD: BARD is a group of playwrights — writers — who hope to use collaboration and work-shopping to create the best student theater at Brandeis as possible. In the past, we’ve held weekly workshops for people to come in and bring their writing. We’ve had professional writers before, and we hope to at some point have a one-act festival, a more serious one-act festival than the quickies, not more serious in terms of [content] but more serious in terms of production. 

JA: How did BARD originate? How is it fundamentally different than other theater groups at Brandeis?

SD: It came to be about a year and a half ago — where it came from was that there were a lot of student-written pieces going up on campus. Me and my really good friend and co-founder Ayelet Schrek ’16, we realized a lot of these shows could use a workshop, a collaborative environment to really give these pieces, because there’s so much student talent on this campus. There are so many people doing really cool things with theater. So having the opportunity, having the place to come together and really work on each others pieces, and get feedback on your pieces — we thought that that would be just really for the community. 

JA: I hear that you’re in the middle of restructuring, what triggered making the changes?

SD: We were having weekly workshops, but we didn’t necessarily get as much attendance as we were hoping for. So, I think this semester what we are trying to do is really focus on individual projects more than just doing like broad [projects], and having people come to us if they need workshop help. We’re still going to look for a professional come in and do a workshop this semester, but primarily we’re looking to have a more project-by-project basis. 

JA: What do you think makes a good workshop environment?

SD: Well, I’ve been in a lot of workshops, and I think the best workshop environments are the ones where people aren’t snooty. I think it’s important to go into workshops wanting your piece to be the best it can be and being ready to really listen and really give constructive feedback and be like, “Oh, I know the right thing to say.” You want to really be open to listening and be open to giving constructive feedback. So the best workshop environment is one that is super collaborative, very much geared towards helping each other out and being open to what other people are saying. 

JA: Is there any project that you’ve been working on through BARD?

SD: No, I’m more on the organization side. I’m actually not a playwright; I’m more of fiction writer. I’ve served more of a distant role than actually having a piece that I’m working on through BARD. But I was actually hoping on starting a play this semester.

JA: What other theater experience have you had at Brandeis?

SD: I’ve been in a lot of theater here. Last semester is the first time I didn’t do a show. I’m in Boris’ Kitchen, which is the sketch comedy troupe on campus. This semester I’m going to be in my friend Sarah Waldron’s ’16 thesis, which will be really cool. Previously, I was in “Angels in America,” I was in “Kennedy’s Children,” I did all acting basically. What really started the whole BARD process was that I was in a student-written piece my freshman year called “Killer in Me” and it was great, I loved it. It was one of those things where I was like, “I wish there was an opportunity where we could really work on this and not have just have it go instant put-up.” You know, really working it, having stage readings, doing that sort of thing.

            —Jaime Gropper