Photos by Julianna Carvalho
Top: Space Hike
Bottom: Wood Raised Boy
By Courtney Burt
On a campus with a very small theatre department and only two full time faculty, Saint Michael’s College does not offer screen writing courses. That did not hold three seniors back this year from creating original shows for their senior seminars.
Historically, this is the largest number of senior theater majors who have written their own original shows in one academic school year, said Peter Harrigan, professor of fine arts.
Wood Raised Boy showed in McCarthy Hall at Saint Michael’s College in mid-November, but the show isn’t over for Senior Patrick Cornacchio. Cornacchio has experience writing plays – he wrote a 10 page play that was performed at a festival in Waitsfield, Vt. his sophomore year. Cornacchio explained his unique creative process and why the curtains are not shutting on his play anytime soon.
Q: If you had to pitch your play in an elevator, what would you say?
A: Wood Raised Boy is about a boy in Canada in the 1800s and his desire to learn more about the outdoors. He stumbles upon native spirits that he teaches but also learns from. It’s almost like the Jungle Book, but in the woods, with themes such as transcendentalism and romanticism woven in.
Q: What made you want to do your own show as opposed to an established production?
A: I wanted it to be tailored to my interests and experiences. Freshman year, I wrote a 14 page draft. So, I’ve actually been working on this for about three years. It is so important to me and who I think I am, so I wanted to explore that world. It also ties into my experience in the Boy Scouts.
Q: How many drafts did you go through for this show?
A: Three. The first 14 page draft was really bad, then the following 30 page draft was closer. The next 60 page draft, which was finalized in September, was the draft I used but I am still working on it. I keep writing it because I keep growing.
Q: Describe a scene that is a direct reflection of your own experiences.
A: Well, in the first scene, Ernest (the main character) talks about how he wants to learn more about nature and that he won’t stop until he knows all its secrets, and for me that’s true for nature, but also life in general. I’m like Ernest in that I’m always amazed at what I’m able to learn in life and that no one is ever truly done learning
Q: What inspires you?
A: Family and friends, I see a lot of them in my writing. Definitely the outdoors and fantasy – this play was full on fantasy. It has talking animals, it doesn’t get more fictiony than that. I watch a lot of superhero movies, so I feel like that is in there too somewhere. Honestly, I find inspiration everywhere.
Q: What are some of the challenges you faced in the creative process?
A: The hardest part was remaining objective, because I was so close to the project. When I drafted the play I was writing the character with a Victorian, proper voice and all the characters sounded the same so none of the jokes were landing. I made it more fun with one liners, connecting ideas and thoughts and adding layers of foreshadowing and continuity.
Q: How does it feel to see the show that you wrote for so long come to life?
A: These characters were existing in a one dimensional world in my head and then the actors were bringing the characters to life. People were bringing things to the stage that I didn’t think of. Theater is an art of collaboration.
Finn Clougherty, ’18 director of Space Hike, is hyped for his upcoming show, which includes sci-fi elements and takes inspiration from Star Trek. The curtains on this Senior Sem open on April 20. His childhood fascination with science fiction fueled the backbone for this futuristic story.
Q: What is the story about?
A: Well, it’s essentially a show about myself and it’s a very Star Trek heavy. It goes sideways from what you might expect. I play with classic tropes and what not. I was inspired by sci fi movies, whether or not I was aware of that when I was writing this in 2015-2016.
Q: How is it about you?
A: I wouldn’t say this play is at all about me, per say, but it’s more a collection of things I like scrambled into a big ol’ mess. But if you want to dig through the garbage to find a message, it might be about being betrayed by your heroes.
Q: What prompted you to write your own show?
A: I always liked writing scripts. I think I was having a hard time deciding what to do for my senior sem.I figured I wasn’t too bad at directing and submitted a script that I thought was pretty funny. Some might say it was lazy.
Q: How long did it take to write the show?
A: I played with the idea in 2015 but I put words on the paper in 2016. In
mythology class, when not a lot was going on, I started writing! I gave copies to my friends to read, but sadly no one ever found the time to look at it. I submitted it anyways. I went back and re-wrote and added 1000 plus words and I’ve been working on it officially since early junior year.
Q: How did you teach yourself how to write the show, or was it something you’ve been doing for a while?
A: I had never written a play at this length, but from the amount of TV and movies I’ve watched I knew how to tell a story or at least knew what a story was supposed to look like.
Q: What inspires you?
A: In sixth grade, my dad had comic strips that I loved, which got me into Star Trek. Some of my stuff is directly inspired by ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’.I guess you could say there is also technology versus nature in the show if you really look for it.
Q: What are some of the challenges
you faced in the creative process?
A: You can’t write a 30 page script in a day, week or even a month. The biggest challenge I’d say is making the characters sound different from each other and me. You and I sound different from each other and our parents, but actually giving the characters stuff to say that is unique was hard. It’s a learning process, but you have to also learn when to leave it alone.
Q: How does it feel to see the show come to life in rehearsal?
A: I’m really pleased with how it’s going so far. I’m super proud of the cast, and it’s been great to see the life they give the show and the spin they put on it that’s different from my own.