November 3, 2006

UT wanders into despair in original production

Wander Standing is one student work that cannot be criticized for being too timid. Written by fourth-year Martyna Majok and directed by Morven Higgins, the play portrays some of the most disturbing manifestations of human hardship, exploring the ways in which traumatic events and conditions affect characters individually and in their relationships.

The play begins with a seemingly simple dispute between a mother and daughter. Layer after layer of alarming history and circumstance is revealed until everything spirals into desperation. It’s then that the girl, Magda, makes one last attempt to reclaim something of her identity and a chance at happiness.

Wander Standing attempts to capture a broad range of psychologically intense experiences. To accomplish all of this in just over an hour, the play employs a very cinematic approach. Elements normally found in film, such as frequent cutting between scenes, voice-over, and even a soundtrack, are all utilized in the production. At times it feels like watching a movie, but the tension of live actors and a close space constantly remind us of the contrary.

“The show has a lot of interesting technical aspects,” said Higgins. “One challenge was working what could have been a more technically rich play into the curtains and cubes format.”

The play involves complicated settings, from scenes of urban poverty to Polish rooftops and trains. With limited resources and a restricting format, this staging could have proven difficult. The show overcomes these difficulties through dialogue, sound design, and sparse but effective sets. The rumbling of a train indicates travel, the placement of furniture transports the audience from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

In fact, the very sparseness lends itself well to the overall tone of the piece, highlighting the characters’ senses of isolation and meager circumstances. Characters are often visible in a pool of light surrounded by blackness, emphasizing the bleakness of their situations.


Path to Pulitzer: An Interview With Playwright Martyna Majok (A.B. ’07)

By Emily Lovett

Martyna Majok’s play, “Cost of Living,” won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.



April 22, 2018