Section: archive

Margolin ’14 to act in self-penned senior thesis production

By Staff

For the senior theses, most Kenyon drama majors pick a play that fits them as actors or directors. When Natalie Margolin ’14 couldn’t find the perfect play, she wrote one instead.

Set to be staged Feb. 14 and 15, Margolin’s play The Power of Punctuation will serve as the acting thesis of Margolin and Elizabeth Gambal ’14 and the directing thesis of Casey Griffin ’14.

Writing one’s own drama thesis is a rare occurrence at Kenyon, Margolin said.

“When I was a freshman, there was a student-written sketch comedy show, but mine is a play, so it isn’t that common,” she said.

However, writing the thesis herself wasn’t the initial plan for Margolin.

“My focus initially was, and still is, acting. I took playwriting my sophomore [year] at Kenyon, and I ended up loving it,” Margolin said. “My senior thesis group decided sophomore year that Elizabeth Gambal and I were to act and Casey would direct. We were struggling to find a play with two strong female roles that we connected to. We proposed two different plays, but they got rejected by the Department because they didn’t feel that they were the right roles for us.”

Gambal said their thesis advisor Professor of Drama Wendy MacLeod wanted Margolin and Gambal to play characters that were roughly their ages.

“The first play was Other Desert Cities, and that’s where I would have been playing Natalie’s mom, a woman in her seventies,” Gambal said. “Natalie would have been playing a woman in her thirties. We really like the play, but in retrospect that’s not right. The other play was called Savage in Limbo and basically [the Drama Department] didn’t think that it was a good enough play.”

The search for the perfect play to perform was on. Soon, however, Margolin found inspiration in an unexpected place.

“I had written a one-act for my Advanced Playwriting class with Wendy MacLeod and Casey read it, and she said, ムNatalie, there are two female roles, they are college girls, and let’s see if we can expand it and have it as our thesis,'” Margolin said.

After Griffin, Gambal and Margolin decided soon before the end of last school year to perform her piece, Margolin spent the summer expanding and revamping her one-act.

“This semester I’ve had one reading with Wendy MacLeod and I’m workshopping it with other actresses, and then Gambal and I next semester will go into rehearsal with Casey,” Margolin said.

Margolin, a native of Los Angeles, is hesitant to give a synopsis of her work.

“I want people to come in with a blank slate as far as it will be,” Margolin said. “It started out as a sketch about texting, a comedy about texting. If I were to put it in a nutshell, I’d say it’s about college friendships.”

Gambal said the play hasn’t even been officially cast yet.

“We are going to be doing readings to hear it and see which character seems to fit,” she said.

Confidence is key with sharing one’s own original work with a wide audience, Margolin said.

“Taking ownership of a piece of writing is hard, but in order for a play to develop, you have to write it and workshop it and hear other actresses read it out loud,” Margolin said. “Sharing it with other people has been the most difficult but the most rewarding part. It’s a very collaborative experience, sharing it with everyone.”

Gambal is excited to perform in a play that’s not only the work of a peer but also of a friend.

“It is so cool. ナ It’s great to be in the process and see her working on it and adjusting it. That’s just something very unique that an actor doesn’t normally get to witness,” she said. “Sometimes you’ll be in a play that’s premiering and you’ll get to see the collaboration between the writer and the director. It’s amazing to see my friend do something that she’s really talented at. It’s exciting to see where it will go.”

As for her plans after Kenyon, Margolin, a four-year member of Fools on the Hill, would like to continue her involvement in the theater.

“I definitely want to continue writing and acting,” she said. “I love doing [improvisational comedy] too. I’ve considered applying to graduate school for a Master’s of Fine Arts. It’s a scary industry. There are a lot of ways to enter it. No matter what I do, I want to continue to produce my own material.”

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