This past summer, the decision to cancel Wheaton’s Advanced Playwriting course due to insufficient enrollment numbers in April was collectively made by Playwright-in-Residence and Professor of English Charlotte Meehan, Associate Provost Shawn Christian and English Department Chair Deyonne Bryant.
The course was heavily intertwined in Wheaton life, as this was the only source of material for the yearly New Plays Festival hosted on campus. Its removal left those who had been excited for the unique learning opportunities about writing offered by the class feeling cheated.
As a result, early this September, many theatre students took to the internet, making an online petition to resurrect the class.
This reaction was considered too swift by several of the school’s faculty members. Many felt that students should have waited for a response from Provost Renée T. White, who they had emailed the same day the petition was sent out, regarding the reasoning behind the class’s cancellation.
However, the student sentiment is vastly different. Matthew Wollrath ’18, a student who had previously taken the course, said, “The class was an amazing opportunity to anyone who wants to write professionally. It was one of the great opportunities that Wheaton had and other colleges did not.” Wollrath added that he felt the class worked better in smaller numbers, as it allowed students to fully discuss and develop their ideas.
As of now, there is no information regarding how the unique writing class will be replaced. However, according to Professor Meehan, she is working alongside Professor Jennifer Madden to make preparations for a New Plays Festival consisting of plays written by contemporary playwrights.