MSU honors students take a look into play production

Zachery Abunemeh, Payton Billingsley, Melvin Cook, Emory Endicott, Olivia Fahrmann, Siobhan Grogan, Brian Ko, Brady Kruse, Jaren Shields and Rebecca Wright have been writing, directing and acting in their own plays as a part of Honors Seminar in Fine Arts. (Photo by Mary Rumore, SDN)
Staff Writer

Mississippi State University students in the Honors Seminar in Fine Arts are learning what it takes to produce a play for public performance.

Professor Donna Clevinger said each student in the class had to write their own play, direct a play and perform in two plays by their classmates.

Junior political science major Zachery Abunemeh, sophomore civil and environmental engineering major Payton Billingsley, junior information technology services major andbusiness minor Melvin Cook, junior sociology major Emory Endicott, sophomore political science major and pre-law and international studies minor Olivia Fahrmann, senior industrial engineering major Siobhan Grogan, junior biomedical engineering major Brian Ko, freshman computer science and English minor Brady Kruse, junior communication major Jared Shields and Spanish and marketing major Rebecca Wright all make up the class.

Wright said her play, entitled “The Secret Life of Amber and Emily,” is based on her best friend and their relationship.

Wright said in the fictional play, the two girls are getting ready for a sorority date party, and they do a lot of cliche sorority-girl things like take Instagram selfies. Once at the party, they realize they are dating the same boy.

“It’s a big dramatic scene, but at the end you find out that sister love is more important than any man,” Wright said.

Abunemeh said he had some experience with acting prior to taking the class, and the experience has inspired him to continue to pursue acting in the future. Abunemeh’s play is entitled “As the Empire Falls,” and it is about two professional wrestlers with a twist at the end.

“When I wrote my play, I based it on real life and gave it a twist,” he said.

Billinglsey also based her play on real life — about a girl who goes on a series of Tinder dates to try to meet new people in college.

“The inspiration is, my freshman roommate and I were both out-of-state students, so we both got Tinder one night just trying to meet new people,” Billingsley said. “Obviously it was a really terrible date, but it had some humor in it.”

The students will perform their plays at 7 p.m. April 17 at the Griffis Forum Room in Griffis Hall on MSU’s campus. There is no cost to attend.

“This has been a really good learning experience to see what people go through to write a play or when they’re acting, and the intricacies of directing. There are a lot of small things you don’t really think about until you’re in that position,” Cook said, whose play is about a student who has to take a test based on his biggest fear.

Billingsley said the class has allowed her to explore her creativity and take a break from her normal class demands.

“My favorite part has just been the creative process,” she said. “I’m an engineering major and I’m surrounded by numbers all day, so this has been a really fun way to mix things up and use a different part of my brain.”

Abunemeh said the class has been a rewarding experience for him, and he is proud of his and his classmates’ work.

“When this show is finally finished, whether it be the worst show I’ve put together or the greatest show, I’m really proud of it,” he said. “I’m going to be really happy, because I worked all semester for this.”