Theatre students wrote 'cheat.' beginning with an honest talk about dishonesty
What is cheating? Who gets hurt when someone cheats? Does everyone do it?
The questions are worth pondering during a new play, “cheat.,” written and produced by the Western students who will perform it this month.
The group, members of an upper division Theatre class, read David Callahan’s 2004 book “The Cheating Culture” and spent months exploring dishonesty in our society as they developed “cheat.,” said Chelsea Lowrie, a Theatre major and the play’s stage manager.
How did you write “cheat.”?
Lowrie: “cheat.” was written by a lighting designer, a set designer, a hair and makeup designer, two costumers, a stage manager, and 12 extremely talented, versatile actors. Despite our traditional titles, we worked as an ensemble for the majority of the process.
We spent many three-hour class periods discussing the definition of cheating and what contexts of cheating are most relevant to our audience. A few professors stopped by to share some of their philosophical and business perspectives.
Then we split into groups to research. The trick was, the groups had to present their research in performance. These moments eventually formed what “cheat.” currently is.
What’s the play about?
Lowrie: Currently, “cheat.” has four primary story arcs: the nature of cheating in a business setting, the pressures of cheating in sports, the progression of romantic cheating in a steady relationship, and how doubt can be just as detrimental to a relationship as cheating itself. This play is a work in progress. It’s very possible that our final piece won’t resemble our current “draft” at all!
Did you find the pervasiveness of cheating a little depressing?
Lowrie: I expected to start this process a little like a puppy-dog drooping its tail: Cheating is so pervasive that I expected to see a part of myself in all of the cheating contexts we explored. Instead, I found myself an angry outsider. I hadn’t realized that honesty was such an important value of mine.