This week, justArts spoke with Brian Dorfman ’16 who as part of the Senior Thesis Festival is producing “W;t,” a one-act play by Margarat Edson that draws on her experience working in a hospital.
justArts: What is the process behind being able to participate in the Senior Festival?
Brian Dorfman: As a junior, you apply in the spring semester with a plan for your project and many details, including who your adviser will be, the resources you plan to use, and what a success might look like for your project. Then, the department comes back with feedback for your application, and you have time to revise as per their recommendations. Once you have been accepted, you begin to collaborate in the fall with your Senior Festival colleagues.
JA: What inspired you to pursue a senior thesis?
BD: Apart from receiving honors in the department, my main motivation was to pursue a project that most other Brandeis forums did not really mesh well with. In the Thesis Festival of the Theatre Arts Department, I can use the resources from Spingold, like costumes, props, stage spaces, and designers. Furthermore, my show along with my three colleagues’ shows are billed as part of the Brandeis Theatre Company season, which is an incredible honor.
JA: Why did you choose your specific thesis?
BD: In my freshman year, I took a class with Prof. David Sherman (ENG.) called Literature and Medicine. This was back while I was pretending to be pre-med. In that class, we read the play “W;t” by Margaret Edson. I remember turning to my friend after I had read it and telling her that this play would be my thesis, without a doubt. As time went on, I realized more and more that this play lent itself to drama therapy, the lens through which we are producing this play. Edson’s writing emphasizes the fact that drama is not dramatic without comedic aspects.
JA: What challenges have you faced and what more do you expect to face in production?
BD: Originally, I wanted to produce the full two-hour play. However, given the time constraints of the festival, we only had an hour, and the department also asked for a talkback session following the play. As time went on, however, this was less of a challenge and more of a journey that this production took to its final form. Having half an hour of scene selections and half an hour of talkback to discuss the play is perfectly appropriate for the nature of my thesis.
JA: What has your theater experience at Brandeis been like?
BD: I did not begin doing theatre until I got to Brandeis. My first production was “Macbeth” with Hold Thy Peace, and from there I began to act, direct, stage manage, and more with every production I could without burning out completely. The community is warm, loving, accepting, and has helped me make some of my closest friends in life.