Senior Festival

April 29 through May 5, 2021.  All online, watch anytime.

The 10th annual Senior Festival is a showcase for graduating theater arts students to present their thesis project work. With the help of faculty advisors, and in close collaboration with Brandeis Sound and Image Media Studiosthey present theatrical works they have created, directed, acted in, choreographed, and designed.

Starting April 29, each description below will have a direct link to the student's Thesis website and an online recording of their work.

Come back and explore!

Image reads: Brandeis Senior Thesis Festival. Nate Rtischev "10, 9, Too Late, Blast Off!", Xinbei Lin "Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights", Anderson Stinson, III "Anderson Stinson's Extended Universe," Renata Leighton "Boundless," Amy Ollove "Foolish Sanity," Lauren Komer "Lulu," Casey Bachman "Disconnecting the Dots: Judaism and Israel." Streaming April 29th to May 5th, 2021.

Poster Image: Jacob Bers '20

Image of student Casey Bachman
Casey Bachman

Disconnecting the Dots: Judaism and Israel
Thesis Maker: Casey Bachman (Actor)

Disconnecting the Dots: Judaism and Israel is an exploration of how theater can be used to create dialogue, specifically around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This thesis also seeks to explore where the line between being critical of Israel and Anti-Semitism lies. This exploration will be through the production of two ten minute plays Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill and Seven Other Children by Richard Stirling. The plays can be acted by as many or few actors as one elects. This production will feature two actors. Both plays were released in reaction to the 2008 Gaza War, and explore the question of how to talk about such a long lasting controversial issue. Each of the seven scenes in both plays reflect a different time period in Israel and Palestine's history.

Content warning: this production includes themes of death and warfare 

Please see bottom of the page for talkback information for this production.

Image of student Lauren Komer
Lauren Komer

Thesis Maker: Lauren Komer (Director)

“You are nothing to me but a woman. Just a woman.” 

In 1895, German expressionist playwright Frank Wedekind wrote the tragedy of Lulu, a woman who has historically been portrayed as either an irredeemable monster or a helpless victim. This adaptation of Wedekind’s work is inspired by the first of the two Lulu plays, Erdgeist (Earth Spirit). Since its inception, directors have struggled to contend with and fully express the complexities of Lulu’s dueling natures on stage. Taking the form of an interactive video performance, this production fearlessly (and literally) looks internalized misogyny in the face and delves into the dark and stunning expanse of Lulu’s mind and soul/s. 

The audience is encouraged (and in fact, required) to press buttons, interact with videos, and find their own way through Lulu’s subconscious. 

Content warnings for this production include: sex, assault, self harm, blood, gun violence, and mental illness. Many of these themes are presented representationally or abstractly. 

*Some scenes briefly include flashing lights.

Image of student Renata Leighton
Renata Leighton

Thesis Maker: Renata Leighton (Deviser and Performer)

As performing artists, we learn from the start that our bodies are our instruments, but what happens when our relationship to ourself falls out of tune? Both a memoir and a call to action, Boundless reflects on the complex experience of developing body dysmorphia as a performer, while interrogating the role artists play in perpetuating toxic narratives about which bodies are valuable and which ones are not. Tackling issues from body representation onstage to body shaming offstage, movement, text and theatrical art installation depict a journey from pain to healing. Devised from the real lives of an ensemble of artists, Boundless explores both the struggles and joys of learning to love one’s body in its most raw, vulnerable and real form.

Content warnings: this piece portrays themes of mental illness, eating disorders, fatphobia and self harm. 

Image of student Xinbei Lin
Xinbei Lin

Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights
Thesis Maker: Xinbei Lin (Director)

Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights is an opera libretto, written by Gertrude Stein in 1938. It is a reworking of the Faust myth, a story of a man selling his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and wealth. In a desolate world, Faustus, Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel (who may or may not be the same person), and the insecure Mephisto dance on the edge of reason and dream. The production features selections from the play: Act 1, Scene III and the finale.

Image of student Amy Ollove
Amy Ollove

Foolish Sanity
Thesis Maker: Amy Ollove (Actor and Creator of script)

Foolish Sanity is a theatrical film piece that combines scenes and monologues from various classical and modern plays into the format of a comedy sketch show. Through these pieces, Foolish Sanity explores what happens when the Fool is given the dimensions and humanity they are so often denied due to their duties of providing entertainment, speaking truths (often by breaking the 4th wall), and being, seemingly, ‘mad’. 

Audiences are urged to question why the truth-telling, comedic relief archetype of the Fool is often deemed mentally ill and how this label permits and inhibits them.

Content Warnings: This piece contains themes of mental illness, suicide, and sexual harassment.

Please see bottom of the page for talkback information for this production.

Image of student Nate Rtischev
Nate Rtishchev

10, 9, Too Late, Blast Off!

Thesis Maker: Nate Rtishchev (Writer)

Three of the early Soviet Union’s most prominent writers enter a Moscow apartment to discuss their new works. What follows is a meta-theatrical journey featuring a humanoid dog, a trip to Mars, and a visit to the zoo. This piece will revolve around the theme of how writers and artists respond to rapid political and social change. Adapting several works from Early Soviet Science Fiction, 10, 9, Too Late, Blast Off! will use different online formats to explore how we engage with stories in turbulent political moments.
Image of student Anderson Stinson, III
Anderson Stinson, III

Anderson Stinson, III’s Extended Universe
Thesis Maker: Anderson Stinson, III (Actor, Director, Writer, Film Producer)

In spring 2020, I proposed a thesis that would explore various acting styles and techniques. I was planning to approach these styles through classical and contemporary scenes and monologues. Quarantining not only put a wrench in these plans, but it also changed what performance looks like for most of us. My original imagined thesis was no exception; it—as well as my faith—did not survive the pandemic. Anderson Stinson, III’s Extended Universe is a new product that aims to illustrate how we can artistically adapt to change. This thesis is NOT a traditional production. Instead, it is the one thing that gave me hope as a storyteller. AS3EU is a series of reels, recordings, and portfolios of productions. These creations are grounded in the different performance-based industries that I have individually explored since the start of the pandemic. As you head into my site, I invite you to view the different avenues that I have ventured into this past year. Feel free to compare them to the other works that I have featured that were produced before the lives of all artists changed drastically. Here, I wanted to present a window so you could view me at my core as an artist and as a person. Feel free to also use the contact tab to ask me any questions or directly connect with me about my experience. My aim (along with the other thesis makers) is to inspire those to create in a time we initially thought we could not. Quarantine has sucked for all artists. Hop aboard the ship. Next stop: My universe.

Want more content?

Disconnecting the Dots Talkback
Friday, April 30th 5:00pm EST

This talkback will allow audience members a chance to talk with the cast and crew about the process of putting together Disconnecting the Dots: Judaism and Israel. We will also dive further into the questions explored by these two plays: How do we define Anti-Semitism in relation to Israel? How can theater be used as a discussion tool? How can we talk about these issues with people we disagree with? Note: you do not need to know anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to participate we welcome and encourage everyone to join! Please register at the link above.

Foolish Sanity Talkback
Saturday, May 1st 3:00pm EST

Come meet members of the Foolish Sanity team- Amy Ollove (Thesis Maker / Lead Actor), Emily Pollack (Director), Kayla Somen (Cinematographer), and Marissa Small (Costume Designer)! We'll discuss  the perspectives regarding how society perceives and treats people with mental illness spoken about in the show and how comedy can be used as a way to discuss these ideas. Learn how Amy developed the 20+ characters she plays in Foolish Sanity and how Emily envisioned all the different plays we include in the show. We'll share how we navigated showcasing the many decades Foolish Sanity encompasses through film and costume design. But most importantly- we can't wait to answer your questions and hear your thoughts about the show! Please register at the link above.

Talkback with the Senior Festival Thesis-Makers
Sunday, May 2nd 2:00pm EST

The 2021 Theater Arts senior thesis-makers will participate in a talkback moderated by Prof. Isaiah Wooden. There will be an opportunity for attendees to ask the panelists question about the Senior Festival during the Q&A portion of the talk back.  Please register at the link above.

The Senior Festival is also a part of the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts.

A dancer wearing a leotard and tutu leaps into the air.