Acclaimed Playwright, Otterbein Professor Partners with Theater to Provide Hand-On Experiences to Students
Posted Jun 15, 2022
By Kailey Mishler ’24
Otterbein professor and playwright Jeremy Llorence is deepening his relationship with the Abbey Theater of Dublin (Ohio) with two events this summer — the production of his play, Voice of the Net, which premiered to acclaim, and the production of the work of three of his students. This unique partnership gives playwriting students real-world experience.
Voice of the Net is a futuristic drama about a task force created to solve cyber-crimes, and follows their work to protect a U.S. senator from internet attacks and threats. This play involves themes about the internet and how it intertwines itself into different facets of society. It also tackles relevant issues such as white supremacy and racist violence.
Llorence said he was inspired to write this play after observing recent conversations regarding the power of the internet that has spread online.
He completed the first draft of his play in late 2018, and entered it into a grant program sponsored by CATCO and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. His play was chosen by Joe Bishara for the CATCO and GCAC Grant in 2018. Original Productions Theatre (OPT) decided to stage the play in June 2022. At this point, Bishara had transitioned to running the Abbey Theater, and since Abbey and OPT have a partnership, he signed on to direct it as well.
This is not the first time Llorence and Bishara have teamed up. Last summer, Llorence worked to bring his students’ work to the stage. In spring 2021, each student in his intermediate scriptwriting class submitted a script in play or screenplay format for their final. Three scripts were selected for production in the first Otterbein Playwrights Collective.
This partnership between Llorence and Bishara helped them bring Voice of the Net to life.
“I enjoyed working with him and he very much enjoyed the play, and so it just made sense that we stayed in touch about it,” said Llorence.
He is also working with Bishara on the second annual Otterbein Playwrights Collective which takes the stage from July 15-17. This event premieres three short plays by Otterbein students. This year’s scripts were written by Katie Frame ’22, Ashleigh Miller ’22, and Abby Giardina ’23. All three plays will be run at each performance. The actors performing these pieces are Central Ohio teens that have worked with Bishara at the Abbey.
Llorence explained the process his students go through to get their scripts chosen for the event, and shared his excitement for the opportunity to showcase his students’ work.
“I teach a combo course for playwriting and screenwriting, where my students write short scripts. As a part of that class, they submit them to The Abbey and Joe looks over the scripts. Then we do a festival where all three plays are performed over the weekend,” said Llorence. “It’s a great opportunity for my students to get some early experience working with actors and directors.”