Ashlin Hatch ’17

Literature/theatre major staged play about Reed's fabled 1972 "spring crisis."

August 28, 2017

Hometown: Arroyo Grande, California

Advisers: Profs. Elliot Leffler [theatre 2014–] and Catherine Witt [French 2005–]

Thesis: “This Must Be the Place: Devising as a Device for Fostering and Fracturing Folklore”

What it’s about: During the 1972 Spring Crisis at Reed, students became really angry upon hearing the news of Nixon escalating the Vietnam War. Critical of the way our institution encouraged people to be a part of systems that were oppressive, they decided to occupy Eliot Hall. For my thesis, I interviewed Reed alumni, spent a lot of time in the archives, and set about making a show in a deeply communal and collaborative way. Collaborative theatre making allows communities to confront the nature of their folklore. [Ashlin won the Class of ’21 Award for her thesis.]

What it’s really about: The relationship between storytelling and social progress.

Who I was when I got to Reed: A person with a lot of excitement, but a far smaller set of tools with which to mold that excitement into something meaningful. 

Influential book: Suzan-Lori Parks’ The America Play and the essays attached to it are structurally wild, and probably worth reading about a million times over, because even though the printed text stays exactly the same, their context is always changing.

Obstacles I have overcome: Initially being at Reed was very scary for me, because everyone around me seemed to Really Have It Together. I applied for senate secretary, got it, and was suddenly friends with all these people who were able to say things so eloquently, and clearly had their finger on the pulse of what’s going on. It was cool to be around them, but also I felt like, “This is unrealizable, the level to which they’ve ascended.” But after working on some really hard issues about community governance, I realized we’re all learning, we’re all in college. Nobody knows everything—if they did they wouldn’t need to be here! 

Favorite class: My favorite thing about Reed classes is how they both support one another and call each other into question. It makes it feel like I’m putting together some cool, very personalized, very big puzzle.

Outside the classroom: I was a senator, was student body president, cofounded a small theatre group called Theatre of the Well-Dressed, and worked in New York as a summer intern with NPR on Ask Me Another.

How Reed changed me: I’ve been exposed to ideas and ways of thinking that I didn’t even have on my radar as available ways to interact with the world.

What’s next: I will be cocreating and directing a new piece of devised theatre, focused on the small town where I grew up. It will be made up of interviews and archival text; the aim is to open up an inclusive and accessible space for dialogue about the social issues that our town has a tendency to sweep under the rug.