Catholic University Showcases M.F.A. Playwriting Candidate’s Production Tilting

Courtesy of Thomas Curry

By Thomas Curry

A Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) playwriting candidate wrote an original play recently showcased in Callan Theatre stage  — Tilting, a play inspired by 17th-century adventure novel Don Quixote.

Third-year M.F.A. playwriting student Rachel Rios’ original work Tilting tells a story of Alexa, an eccentric heiress to a wind farm, on a quest to find a utopia city her father used to tell her about as a young girl.

Alexa’s strict aunt, Aunt Sam, asks a windmill mechanic on the farm named Sebastian to accompany Alexa on the search for the utopian city she sets out to find, while her Aunt Sam remains at the farm, trying to take over and send Alexa to a psychiatric ward upon her return, unbeknownst to Alexa.

Along their journey, they come across a number of strange and quirky encounters, including a woman dressed in trash, a vacation-goer with cactus needles on their back, and a naked man living on a mountain. As the quest continues, each encounter brings Sebastian to see Alexa’s perspective of life and how her Aunt Sam is not truly trying to help her.

Design, production and performance altogether took about eight months, according to director, Eleanor Holdridge. She also mentioned that the play is meant to cater to a diverse audience throughout the Catholic University community.

“It could be for anyone, from someone who wants to see a show about mental illness and how to cope, but it’s also funny, so people looking for a comedy can come too,” said Holdridge. “But also, it’s like a quest, an adventure. So it’s a show meant for many different people.”

Holdridge also mentioned how accommodating and astounding the actors in the production were. “I love the actors,” Holdridge exclaimed, “they worked so beautifully at taking spare dialogue and making a show out of it that came to life. They are amazing.”

Among the five actors were Rachel Foley, who starred as Alexa, and Carson Collins, who played the supporting role of Sebastian. Foley is a Senior Drama major who has acted in previous CenterStage performances such as Proof and The Importance of Being Earnest. Collins is a Senior Musical Theatre major who has performed in productions such as Legally Blonde and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

The play drew in students, staff, alumni and locals from the Brookland area, who say they enjoyed watching a show written by a student of Catholic University, who say they appreciated the comical and mystical aspects of the show.

“I liked the stage, how the steps looked jagged and twisted,” Assistant Minister of Community Service Harrison Hanvey said, “I think it really matched well with the underlying themes the play was trying to approach.”

Members of the Rome School of Music, Drama and Art say that using M.F.A. playwrights was beneficial for the entire department.

“It gives students the opportunity to collaborate with outside directors and designers as actors, stage managers, board operators and stage crew members,” said sophomore drama major Shannon Saulnier, “The fact that these shows are original and brand new makes this entire experience both exciting and educational.”


Callan Theater stage hosted five shows between February 9-16, as well as a second MFA Playwriting Candidate’s production — Ad Nauseam, which premiered February 8-17.

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