Alumnus returns to discuss drama

Mallory Kutnick, Campus Reporter


Playwright Robert Caisley will come to the Doudna Fine Arts Center Wednesday to provide a workshop and a presentation about writing scripts.

The workshop, “Playwriting: Some Thoughts, An Exercise & A Challenge,” will take place at 3 p.m. in Doudna 2014, the Theatre Arts Classroom.

The presentation, “In a Dark Room with Strangers,” will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Doudna Lecture Hall. It will focus on the differences between writing literature and scripting plays.

“A novelist doesn’t experience first-hand someone reading their novel,” the 1990 theatre arts alumnus said. “It’s so much harder writing for a live audience.”

Caisley first became involved in theatre when he was a teenager, but drama was a part of his life for longer. He said his father, an actor, provided plenty of early reading material.

“His scripts littered the house,” he said.

Caisley wrote his first scripts in his late teens. His production “Lucky Me” is currently running in Estonia. His newest play, “And Juliet,” is set to premiere in early May at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Beach, New Jersey. He also wrote a revival of “The Open Hand,” which ran in 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“I hope that there will be many, many more productions subsequently,” Caisley said.

Caisley’s return to Eastern is a year in the making, the result of coordination with the English department.

English professor Tim Engles said Caisley’s plays have been successful and theatre arts students could learn much from him.

“One of Robert’s topics in his talk will be what it’s like to write plays in ways that encourage more active audience participation, a difficult task for any playwright,” Engles said. “We’re thrilled to have Robert visit us.”

Caisley said he is also excited to return to Eastern.

“This is a nostalgic trip back down Memory Lane,” he said.

Caisley began as an actor but stopped in his 20s, when he took to writing and directing instead.

“I haven’t acted for years,” Caisley said. “It doesn’t come naturally to me.”

The scripts for “Lucky Me” and Caisley’s 2013 play “Happy” will be available for purchase following the conference.

Mallory Kutnick can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]