Vanderbilt University Theatre will premiere Lovelaces and Wingman Telegram—two pandemic-themed plays written by Vanderbilt students—at Neely Auditorium Nov. 12–14.
A committee of faculty and students working on the Plays from the Pandemic project commissioned Amina S. McIntyre, a third-year doctoral student in the Graduate Department of Religion, to write Lovelaces. Her play focuses on a young married couple who decide during the pandemic to call it quits—that is, until a mysterious inheritance leads them to question their choices. Working together, they discover that love that can be resilient and true even when challenged by unimaginable hardship.
“Just as many systems have failed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple’s relationship in my play becomes increasingly rocky during the stressful time,” McIntyre said. “The mysterious inheritance that impacts the couple’s decisions includes a series of love letters between two of their ancestors who were enslaved and separated during the Civil War. Through resilience and fortitude—important themes for the pandemic—the Civil War-era couple were reunited post-Emancipation. This part of my play is based on the true story of a couple who reunited after the war and are buried in the African American section of Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.”
McIntyre, a playwright from Atlanta, has production credits with the Atlanta History Museum, Out of Hand Theatre, Oakland Cemetery, Vanguard Repertory Theatre and more. Her studies in the Program in Religion, Psychology and Culture are focused on pastoral care and the role that theater and the arts can play in healing.
Lovelaces is directed by Brooke Dennison, a senior from Wilmington, Delaware, who is double majoring in theatre and English. She has an honors thesis in theatre with an emphasis on directing. She also crafted a specialized critical studies major in the English department concentrating on the art of storytelling. Dennison has worked in a variety of productions both backstage and in front of an audience, including Zoom, during her time at Vanderbilt.
Wingman Telegram is by Will Henke, a junior from Franklin, Tennessee, who is majoring in human and organizational development and theatre. Wingman Telegram is his first produced play. Henke is also director of Tongue ‘N’ Cheek, an improv comedy troupe, and a Vanderbilt tour guide. He has acted in several student films.
Henke’s play revolves around a young man who has been quarantined on his own for too long. His life skills are rudimentary, at best. He’d love to date, but it all seems a little beyond him. Fortunately, help arrives in a cardboard box delivered to his door.
Wingman Telegram is directed by Leah Lowe, associate professor of theatre. “Last year was a very rough one for theater all over the world,” Lowe said. “When faculty and students began planning the new VUTheatre season last spring, there was still much uncertainty about what we would be able to do. We also just felt that living through last year was big enough that we wanted to stop and talk about it and reckon with what had happened.”
Phillip Franck, professor of theatre and department chair, designed the setting and lighting for each production. Other theatre faculty contributing to the productions include Alexandra Sargent Capps, assistant professor of the practice of theatre, as costume designer, and Liz Haynes, assistant professor of the practice of theatre, as technical director.
All patrons at Neely Auditorium are required at this time to wear masks, whether vaccinated or not. For the fall semester, VUTheatre productions are free but open only to the Vanderbilt campus community. Reservations are not required, and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.