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Student Research Fellowship

 Sarah Nutt

Sarah Nutt '06

Hampton, Illinois
Speech Communication and Theatre
Donald Anderson Fellow

Play project: In Search of an Imagination  [working title]
Mentor: Dr. Scott Magelssen, Theatre

Sarah Nutt knew she had a story to tell after visiting House on the Rock, a 14-room sculpture that is now part of an extraordinary complex of rooms, streets, buildings and gardens covering more than 200 acres in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Nutt wanted to write a play about House on the Rock, and Dr. Scott Magelssen, assistant professor of theatre, suggested she do it for her Senior Studio.

"I like the idea of challenging adults to ask themselves what happened to their imagination; to challenge themselves to use their imagination in everyday life, especially in their careers - and to notice how we can do that by looking at Alex's Jordan's House of the Rock.

I researched theatre testimony plays where dialogue is constructed from real interviews, and I decided that was the format I wanted to try. I met with Dr. Magelssen once a week to go over interview questions and important things to look for, and then last summer I spent a week at House on the Rock doing research. The grant also helped me buy the technology I needed - like my camera, tape recorder, a transcription device and a computer program for playwriting.

I have never done anything this extensive before. The whole process was a great thing for me. It showed me that I could go out and do research on my own and use my time well. And when I wasn't getting the interviews I needed early in the week, I was surprisingly creative with different ways of looking at the House because, for six days, it was just me talking into a tape recorder. Fortunately, I did get all my interviews on the last day.

I've always found theatre testimony to be interesting, but this project made me look at this type of writing a lot differently. I never realized how challenging it is - and yet how much I love it."

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