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. Linden Lane
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A star is born

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Rulison '06 named nation's best student dramaturge

Rulison in Robsham Theater's wardrobe room. Photo by Lee Pellegrini

Rulison in Robsham Theater's wardrobe room. Photo by Lee Pellegrini

Megan Rulison, a theater major and Presidential Scholar from Canandaigua, New York, closed out her junior year by winning the National Award in Dramaturgy despite being the youngest of six finalists at the American College Theater Festival, April 23, in Washington, D.C. The award is sponsored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and recognizes outstanding achievement in dramaturgy—the historical and literary research and analysis that supports the staging of a play.

Rulison's winning entry described her work on two modern one-act plays presented by Boston College's theater department last fall, Credible Witness and Necessary Targets, both directed by Assistant Professor Patricia Riggin. Necessary Targets, by Eve Ensler, follows two American therapists as they interview and attempt to counsel five women, residents of a refugee camp in Bosnia. Credible Witness, by Timberlake Wertenbaker, is the story of two Macedonian refugees from Greece and their travails in London.

Well in advance of the premieres, Rulison created a website for the actors, producers, and crew, with maps, links, and recommended readings and films—for example, Love Thy Neighbor, a published account of the war in Bosnia by Peter Maas; The Other Side of Truth, a novel by Beverley Naidoo about Nigerian refugees in London; and the Bosnian Oscar-winner No Man's Land. Backstage, Rulison started a "dramaturge's wall," on which she placed pertinent newspaper and magazine articles about events in the regions portrayed. And she provided the casts with resource binders containing histories and regional writing—Macedonian poetry, for example, and short stories on the siege of Sarajevo.

Rulison brought in guests to meet with the casts, among them Professor Cynthia Simmons of BC's Slavic and Eastern languages department and a Bosnian émigré woman who taught the cast songs in Serbo-Croatian that were later used in the production. Cast and crew members also accompanied Rulison to the restaurant Sabur in Somerville, Massachusetts, where the owners, Haris and Ria Jusufbegovic, joined the group and described their experience of the siege of Sarajevo.

Rulison confesses that when Scott Cummings, an associate theater professor, asked her in the spring of 2004 to assist him as a dramaturge, her reaction was, "So, instead of working on the stage, I have to do all this research?" But, she soon found, "I love taking apart plays."

As the winner of the Kennedy Center competition, Rulison is a fellow at the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference in Waterford, Connecticut, this summer.

Sean Smith


Sean Smith is editor of the BC Chronicle.

 


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