A Black Box Turned Colorful: “Writers at the Black Box”

Writers and spectators converse as they leave the event. | Photo by Jennifer Cahill

A black box, in theatre terms, is a large, bare, black-walled room bordered by spectator seating. It is stark; free of distractions from the displays of creativity that take place within. Tuesday night, three current MFA students and an alumnus from the Creative Writing Program hosted “Writers at the Black Box” in the black box of the Boston University Playwrights’ Theatre. The ears and imaginations of spectators lining the perimeter of the ‘box’ were treated to the work of creative writing’s up-and-coming in the departments of poetry, fiction, and playwriting.

The first to take to the stage was the youngest of the group, MJ Halberstadt. Halberstadt’s featured work was a new, 10-minute play entitled W4M. W4M is an unconventional love story about a young, frivolous costume-designer, Becky, who answers a newspaper’s “Missed Connections” advertisements. Among her many meetings, she encounters the nameless male protagonist, “Man” and unintentionally makes a connection. It’s a rapturous tale of fate, peppered with humor and tightly packed into its mere 10 minutes.

Following an eloquent introduction, MFA student Megan Fernandez rose to present her captivating poetry. Fernandez’s work expertly combines the empirical and the emotional. Also present in her work is a witty brand of humor. She transitions between dating a taxidermist in one poem to an elegy for a murdered college friend. The versatility of Fernandez’s poetic voice proved powerful throughout the eight-poem reading.

MFA fiction student Shubha Sunder presented scenes from a piece centering on a friendship between two girls of different socioeconomic standings. One of the two desires to travel to Paris. The story derives some of its humor from her imaginings of a stereotypical Paris–croissants, chic Parisians strolling with cigarettes in hand, and a flock of birds against a clear sky. The theme of two friends with very different lifestyles, and Sunder’s rather quirky takes on French culture, made the tale an engaging one.

The final of the group was BU MFA program alumnus Caitlin Doyle. Doyle’s twelve-poem presentation ran the gamut from deeply personal to historical. Sonnet for Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow was dedicated to the scapegoat of the Chicago Fire of 1891, the cow which, by urban legend, was said to have kicked over a lantern igniting the hugely fatal fire. Madame Tousseau is inspired by the wax figure of the woman in her namesake museum, weak and sad-looking as compared to the brilliant imitations of pop stars and politicians. The Bells describes Doyle’s experience living across from the Washington National Cathedral. The poem explores a personal struggle with religion as compared to the echoing toll of the bells. Her moving work is a testament to the well-honed talent churned out by the MFA program.

When the evening culminated, attendees mingled with the featured writers. Fellow MFA candidates, students, and friends were left with jaws gaping at the inspirational show of creative brilliance.

Visit http://www.bu.edu/writing/calendar/ to find other events hosted by the Creative Writing Program.

Ingrid Adamow

Ingrid Adamow (COM '14) is Editor-in-Chief and also a writer for The Quad. Ingrid is an advertising major and enjoys reading, writing, good music, fashion, coffee, and adventures around the city of Boston. But mostly coffee.

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