Art speaks to audiences on a level deeper than conversation can reach. Senior theatre major Brandon Greer explored the potential for speaking through art by writing an original play titled "A Friend Out of Stone" as part of his required senior directed project and the LCU annual Scholar's Colloquium.
Greer's play will be performed as part of the Scholar's Colloquium Friday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the McDonald Moody Auditorium.
Greer began to write "A Friend Out of Stone" in Dec. 2015 at the beginning of the presidential election cycle, as he contemplated how fiction could be used to draw attention to the social injustices being discussed in the media.
"I really wanted to write about robots," Greer laughed.
Greer believes social plays hold an important place in art and literature because conversations can be limited by preconceived prejudices and biases. Theatre, Greer suggests, is a safe place to explore ideas and issues. He adds that fantastical elements serve as imperfect allegories that speak to social themes on an emotional level.
Greer chose to channel his social narrative through a retro-futuristic science fiction about the acceptance of androids into human culture.
He had his first read through of "A Friend Out of Stone" in Feb. 2016, which prompted a lot of suggestions for revisions. The draft underwent some drastic character and plot changes during rewrites in the successive months.
Even after the play was approved for his senior direct in Nov. 2016, "A Friend Out of Stone" was not safe from changes. A week before the play opened, Greer's leading actor had to withdraw from the show due to chronic illness. An alternate actor, Braeden Jones, stepped in to the role of the android John with seven days to learn lines and blocking.
Greer also hopes to delve more into the script in the next rewrite as he works toward a full-length play: adapting dialogue, exploring the politics, daily life, and economy of his setting, and incorporate more research on the scientific potential of artificial intelligence.
"The most rewarding part for me being in an original play is knowing we will surprise the audience," said Samantha Turley ('14), a graduate student who stars as the android Jane. "This is a production that no one else has seen or been in before, and it is exciting to present an original narrative and characterization of androids without expectation."
Greer is encouraging his audience to provide feedback that will improve the script in future drafts.