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Lit–Theatre Major Nabs Class of ’21 Award

By Chris Lydgate ’90 on May 20, 2015 03:19 PM

Leah Artenian ’15 won the Class of ’21 award for her senior thesis adapting "The Year of Silence" for the stage

Literature-theatre major Leah Artenian ’15 has won the illustrious Class of ’21 Award for her senior thesis, an adaptation of Kevin Brockmeier’s short story “The Year of Silence” for the stage.

The award recognizes “creative work of notable character, involving an unusual degree of initiative and spontaneity.” For her thesis, Leah wrote the script, assembled the cast, and directed the 90-minute production, which played to packed houses at the Blackbox Theatre in Reed's Performing Arts Building.

In nominating Leah for the award, her advisers Prof. Peter Ksander [theatre 2011–] and Prof. Gail Berkeley Sherman [English 1981–] wrote:

Leah’s immensely successful and creative project was ambitious in scope (an hour-and-a-half play), involved translating from one artistic medium to another (short story to devised theatre piece), and included the creation of a highly skilled ensemble of actors from a group that had never worked together before . . .

Often a literature-theatre thesis will be strong in one aspect but not the other, but Leah’s work was outstanding in every way. The document thoughtfully explores big questions about the nature of narrative, and is equally successful at discussing narratology and the history of devising theatre. It provides an exceptionally well-written, clear, and thoughtful analysis of the process of putting on a successful theatre production. The production played to large, well-pleased audiences, including both students and faculty.

"I am shocked, touched, and very excited by this news," Leah said after learning of the award. Her thesis is titled “Listen Well: An Examination of the Relationship between Literary and Theatrical Narratives through a Devised Theatrical Adaptation of Kevin Brockmeier’s ‘The Year of Silence.’”

Mathematics major Maddie Brandt ’15 also won the Class of ’21 Award this year.