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Photo by Clayton Cotterell

Aziza Afzal ’17


Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

Who I was when I got to Reed: A shy young nerd with a love for performance, art, and writing.

Influential book: The Skriker is a play by Caryl Churchill about two girls haunted by a mythical fairy who relies on the memories and emotions of humans to stay alive. In 2015, I put on this play with a theatre ensemble made up of five friends who were all going to school in different places. We rehearsed for nine months and had weekly Skype rehearsals.

A concept that blew my mind: Theatre is the live study of people interacting within time and space. I’ve collected tools that apply to life problem solving and solutions for bodies in space interacting with each other and the environment, including concept designs to solve larger problems or a structure to facilitate communication in communities.

Favorite class: In Race and Identity in American Theatre with Prof. Kate Duffly, I learned how to talk about race, identity, and art within the community and when engaging with critical discourse.

Cool stuff: I worked on productions in the theatre department, including artistic collaborations with other students outside of class; made and printed my own coloring book; learned about civic devising in a workshop with Michael Rohd of Sojourn Theatre; and snowshoed for the first time.

How Reed changed me: Reed confirmed my suspicion that there isn’t only one right way to do something, and taught me how much can be gained from the differences I encounter.

Adviser: Prof. Kate Duffly [theatre 2012–]

Thesis: “The Short Play: A Brief Moment in a Radical Structure”

What it’s about: What constitutes a short play? What makes a short narrative compelling? What are the best uses of the short play structure? I test my hypothesis that short plays’ inherent manipulation of perceptions of time and space invite a manifold present through expansion and compression, relative length, reversal, immediacy, anonymity, and a punctum to the contextual studium. Over winter break, I wrote one short play per day—20 plays in 20 days—trying to represent a multitude of different scenarios, times, and places, all within a very short time frame and experience.

What it’s really about: The special effects of brevity on perceptions of time, structures of performance, and story.

What’s next: I intend to perform with my ensemble, Welcome Homesick; get a job; and work to support intersectional cooperation interpersonally and through writing to better the current political climate (a big task, but I have some ideas). I also hope to work with the Neo-Futurists in New York and continue writing plays.