Thursday, August 16, 2007
Student-written play takes OU stage this fall
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Franco Vitella always liked to write, but as a student in Oakland University’s playwriting class he said something took over and he really found his passion. Vitella has written a number of plays, including “Knick Knack,” which was produced at OU in 2006 and was included in the American College Theatre Festival in 2007. Last summer, he set to work on another play “Come, Beauty,” which was recently awarded first place in the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s annual playwriting contest. The play will also be featured in this year’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance production line-up.
“‘Come, Beauty” is about a philosopher hacking out the answer to life and his inabilities and shortcomings to do so. Another person, an artist, shows up and challenges his thinking,” Vitella said. “They debate back and forth and come to a realization. It’s definitely a comedy, almost an absurdity drama.”
Vitella started out with the mindset to write a play about religion. He said it was originally going to focus on Shinto but as he started to develop the plot, the focus was more on philosophy.
“Come, Beauty” started to get attention on campus after Michael Gillespie, associate professor of theatre, and Kitty Dubin, adjunct theatre professor, read it and decided to have a staged reading in Dubin’s class. Shortly thereafter, Vitella received word from Kerro Knox III, associate professor of theatre, that the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance wanted to use his play in their 2007-08 line-up.
In 2006, Vitella wrote and directed “Knick Knack” and has written other short plays that have been produced at OU, but nothing of this magnitude.
“It’s pretty incredible to see your work on the stage. It almost gives you chills that you actually created that. I started playwriting a couple of years ago when I took the course at OU. I had never written a play before and now that’s all I write,” Vitella said.
Vitella is working on a Bachelor of General Studies degree. He had no idea when he went into the playwriting class that he would come out hoping to make a career out of it.
“Coming in day one of the class, we were writing short, five minute plays. It was terrible. Then something within me clicked. When I write, something else takes over and it just happens,” Vitella said. “The most difficult part for me is going back and fixing minor problems and then thinking about it too much.”
Vitella said it takes him about three months to produce the first draft of the play.
“In order to do playwriting well, you definitely need to learn the craft of it. I think if I had tried to do it without any knowledge, the plays would have come out how I wanted them to, but not any good,” Vitella said.
Vitella plans to continue to study playwriting in graduate school while writing and submitting plays to theatre companies to get his start. He said he could never act and has no experience in stage design, and he wants to focus on playwriting.
“Come, Beauty” runs in the Varner Studio Theatre Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 with all shows at 8 p.m. Admission is $5 for general admission and $3 for students. Tickets will be sold at the door. “Come, Beauty” is part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ 2007-08 theme Revolution. For more information on the theme, visit the Revolution Web site.
“The play gives you a lot to think about,” Vitella said. “There is a lot on the plate, but it’s presented in a humorous way and some broad, vague ideas are pondered in the play.”
For more information on the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, including the 2007-08 events, visit the Music, Theatre and Dance Web site.