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MMC Theatre Students and Playwriting Alums Unite for New Production

When Marymount Manhattan College’s Theatre Arts department was finalizing the 2021-2022 show calendar, a unique idea surfaced for an open performance slot at New York Live Arts. From March 31st to April 2nd, that idea became a reality.

MMC Theatre Arts students spent the Spring 2022 semester preparing for IN PROCESS: 3 New Voices, staged readings of three plays written by Marymount Manhattan College alums Monet Hurst-Mendoza ’09, Penny Pun ’17, and Shelby Solla ’18 and directed by MMC alum Katherine Carter ’09, MMC faculty member Mary Fleischer, and renowned guest director Eugene Ma.

MMC students and alums come together for a new play development production, IN PROCESS: 3 New Voi... MMC students and alums come together for a new play development production, IN PROCESS: 3 New Voices.“There are so many great writers that come through the Writing for Stage concentration at the College,” Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Kenny Finkle said. “We really wanted to find a way to stay connected to our alums while demonstrating to students in the program, and the Theatre Arts department, that Marymount Manhattan is an artistic home that they can continue to come back to.”

A collaborative theatrical project, IN PROCESS provided MMC Theatre alums the opportunity to experience their works in progress in front of a live audience while current students were immersed in new play development. Outside of working on this production, each playwright is pursuing a different career trajectory, so the students were offered a glimpse of various professional pathways that potentially await them following graduation. “Students get to see where they could be in five to ten years; the exchange between them and our visiting alums is electric,” Finkle said.

MMC Theatre Arts graduates often find themselves working on new plays for many years out of college, so programs like IN PROCESS offer a head start on their journeys to success. “The development of new work is a key part of the theatre ecosystem that is often overlooked in undergraduate training,” Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Lori Zepp said. By stepping away from traditional theatrics and focusing exclusively on the development process of new work, IN PROCESS redirected the spotlight to this critical component of the creative process.

Since graduating from MMC, Hurst-Mendoza is currently a full-time staff writer on Law and Order: SVU. She was excited to come back to MMC to bring breathe•tulum to fruition. “I had been wanting to write a play about Tulum and the ecological effect that tourism is having,” Hurst-Mendoza said in an interview with MMC student Connor Spaulding ’23. Hurst-Mendoza channeled her passion for Tulum into a script that investigates the negative implications of a once sleepy town evolving into a party destination. She brought this project to life with longtime friend, collaborator, and fellow MMC alum Katherine Carter.

Solla’s Custodian explored the relationship dynamics of a group of janitors cleaning an underfunded high school in Pennsylvania, while Pun’s Rundown examined how two Asian women cope in their own ways with white workplace culture while working on a sitcom pilot for a white student’s senior thesis.

Published: March 29, 2022