What Is A Reedie, Anyway? (continued)

Have at thou! Beth used this foil as a prop in Shakespeare’s King Lear, one of five shows she directed at Reed.
Photo by Matt D'Annunzio

Elizabeth Dinkova theatre and psychology

Hometown: Sandanski, Bulgaria

Advisers: Prof. Kathleen Worley [theatre 1985–]; Prof.Timothy Flemming [psych 2012–]

Theatre thesis: “Communicating across Differences: Directing Approaches to the Socialist Absurd”

What it’s about: How do you take a work of theatre from a source culture, show it to a target culture, and still have them understand what is important about the source culture? I adapted and directed The Suede Jacket, a play that originated in totalitarian Bulgaria, for a contemporary American audience. The play examines the breakdown of language and communication and the very tenuous position of the human being in the world.

What it’s really about: Theatre’s ability to help people from different backgrounds connect on an emotional level.

Psychology thesis: Perception of Visual Causality in the Pigeon

What it’s about: I tried to uncover whether pigeons and (by extension) other animals have certain capacities that have been thought of as exclusively human. Are animals capable of paying attention to the same sorts of visual relationships and cues that people use to make judgments about causality? I did a categorization task with pigeons in which they learned to discriminate between causal and noncausal visual displays.

What it’s really about: Humans are not so special. We’re different from other animals in degree, not nature.

Who I was when I got to Reed: Very shy. Getting an adviser in theatre was one of the most important things that happened to me because it determined my course of study from then on. 

Influential book(s):  Dostoyevsky’s novels. In my thesis, I used Meyerhold on Theatre. Meyerhold was a Soviet avant-garde director. Initially he was favored by the socialist regime, but it quickly became clear he was too experimental for them. Ultimately he was arrested and executed.

Favorite spot: The southeast stacks in the basement of the library, where all of the plays and novels are.

Cool stuff I did: Directed five shows at Reed and acted in two. Did a summer internship with an American theatre company in Greece, and a psych internship at Yale.

How Reed changed me: Reed made me confident that if I just persevere, discover what I’m passionate about, and follow that, I’m going to succeed. It’s everything I ever wanted in a school. Original ideas are appreciated and people try to push their own boundaries in order to discover something more creative and insightful. 

Scholarships, awards, or financial aid:  Many amazing people I know would not have been able to come to Reed were it not for the generous contributions of alumni and others in the Reed community.

Something I would tell prospies: Develop close relationships with professors. Get involved in their research. You’ll learn a lot when you communicate with them on a one-on-one basis. Reed is one of the rare places that can actually happen because the professors have the time and are happy to do so.

What’s next: A directing apprenticeship with the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C.