this page contains some information about and photos of my undergraduate thesis production, a one-act play written and directed by me and titled light at night. it was written more or less between september 2006 and january 2007, and was produced in march 2007.

Light at Night, a playwriting thesis written and directed by senior literature-theatre major Stacia Torborg, follows the story of college student Sarah as she struggles to navigate the unknown spaces between dream and reality, between love and indifference, between living and dying. It's a play about making decisions, about learning to ask the right questions and about stumbling towards fulfillment in spite of (or perhaps because of) the people in your life.

director's note

In an article written in 1972, Marjorie G. Perloff says that Sylvia Plath's novel, The Bell Jar, "has become for the young of the early seventies what Catcher in the Rye was to their counterparts of the fifties: the archetypal novel that mirrors, in however distorted a form, their own personal experiences, their sense of what Irving Howe calls 'the general human condition.'" Esther Greenwood's struggles, Perloff suggests, are "simply a stylized or heightened version of the young American girl's quest to forge her own identity, to be herself rather than what others expect her to be." I did not have The Bell Jar in mind when I began writing Light At Night, and in fact had not read it in years, but I have since developed an intimacy with the book - and so has my play. Though written in 1972, Perloff's thesis is, I believe, still applicable today. Esther, approaching her college graduation and adulthood, is confronted by a myriad of possible futures. She uses the metaphor of a fig tree to describe her resulting paralysis:

   I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.
   From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and children and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldnÍt quite make out.
   I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

As Perloff points out, this is "a malaise that is hardly confined to schizophrenics." A few weeks ago, I was sitting in Commons at lunchtime with a few friends. I mentioned something about having decided not to write my thesis' research chapter about schizophrenia, and my friends said, "but your play's main character is schizophrenic." I reacted with surprise. "The audience will think she is, anyway," they told me. I will, of course, let you draw your own conclusions, but I will remind you that drama, like any writing, may make use of figurative language, and that in theatre, as in any art, everything may not be exactly as it seems.

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