AUSTIN HOOD ‘21 | STAFF WRITER • Ryan Horner ‘15 is filling the role of playwright-in-residence for the Theater Department this semester. In addition to collaborating closely with students and faculty within the department on a two-day per week basis, Horner’s main task has been to author this semester’s Studio One-Act play, which will feature 16 student actors and 7 student directors, one for each scene. That play, “Another Thing Coming” is set to be performed in the Experimental Theatre in the Fine Arts Center at 8 p.m. on November 15 and 16.
Bringing in a non-student playwright-in-residence allows Wabash students to directly engage the world of emerging theatre in a meaningful way. Studio One-Act plays have been performed each fall since 1996, but were originally written by students. Since 2013, the College has brought in non-Wallies to allows students to focus on the directing and acting aspects of the play. Horner is the first Wabash alumnus to act as playwright-in-residence.
“We are always passionate about giving our students and alumni chances to shine,” Prof. Jessie Mills, BKT Assistant Professor of Theater, said. “Ryan is an extremely talented and capable writer, so it was almost a no-brainer to reach out to him and ask him to write this play.”
However, the role of a playwright is not one Horner, a literature major, would have expected to find himself in just a few short years ago.
“During my senior year at Wabash, I had never taken a theatre course,” Horner said. “Theater was something that happened at the other end of campus that I simply was not involved in.Almost out of pure curiosity I decided to expand my horizons and look into acting. I took Introduction to Acting with Professor Mills my first semester senior year, and that was sort of the beginning of this whole process.”
Horner, who recently earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of California, Davis, also admits that playwriting has brought about its fair share of challenges.
“In the kind of writing I’m used to, I have my hands on everything,” Horner said. “Nothing goes out the door without my stamp of approval on it. In playwriting, you only have your hand on a certain number of levers and strings. At the end of the day, you have to sit back and watch as all these directors and actors do their part as well.”
Professor of Theater Michael Abbott ‘85 agrees that writing the script for “Another Thing Coming” was an inherently difficult task for Horner.
“What’s cool about this is the Rubix Cube writing challenge it presents,” Abbott said. “What we’re really saying to Ryan is we need you to fit 16 actors into 7 scenes, and each of those scenes must be self-contained enough for them to be a project for an individual director. Every actor has to have something meaningful to do and those actors all have to be put together in a story that has a beginning, middle, and end. He pulls it off, and it’s kind of astonishing how well he does it.”
Both Horner and the rest of the Theater Department have been intentionally vague about the actual contents of the play itself, insisting that students who wish to know this information come to the performances and watch the fruits of the hard work of their friends and peers.
“It’s a short one-act play so I don’t want to reveal too much,” Horner said. “What I will say, however, is that it’ll be about dreams.”