“The Diver’s Wife” covers life, loss and grief

“The Diver’s Wife” covers life, loss and grief

February 23
23:24 2015

Kelly Benjamin / Staff Writer

Using the death of her father and a harpist’s song as a springboard, theatre senior and playwright Lauren Belmore wrote “The Diver’s Wife,” a play with themes of grief, family and mental health. This is the first student-written play in the Lab Series in 40 years.

The play focuses on Rosalind, a woman dealing with the sudden loss of her husband.

Belmore started work on “The Diver’s Wife” in the summer of 2012. Belmore said she got the idea of the play from a song by Joanna Newsom and Philip Glass, which share’s the play’s title.

“I started mapping out the play and the first draft of the first act was done about six or eight months after I first heard the song,” Belmore said. “By the time I pitched it to the board in the spring of 2014, it was probably on its third or fourth draft. They accepted it, and it went through another rewrite.”

Belmore said one of main themes of the play is loss and how to deal with it in situations where the parties involved may not be prepared to.

“It’s about a woman who loses her husband in a pearl diving accident,” Belmore said. “The play deals with how she processes that grief and that trauma and how her family reacts.”

Belmore said the story also functions as a social commentary on generational gaps and treating mental illness. Belmore lost her father to a heart attack when she was 16, and she said this inspired the story as well.

“I’ve always been a writer. I think sometimes when something happens to you, it’s really hard sometimes to have to write words,” Belmore said. “It was very hard for me to process those feelings. This play is actually the first thing I’d actually written and sat down and kind of mulled over those feelings.”

Belmore said she was 19 when she began writing the play in 2012, and she modeled characters after people she knew and experiences she had.

“From wherever you start you just build around it,” Belmore said. “And then eventually from that scene, more ideas pop up and your idea has branches.”

Belmore said her mentor, theatre professor Andrew Harris, assisted in development of the play and helped her push forward in her work.

“She did most of the work by herself,” Harris said. “But what I saw in Lauren was not only that she had talent and persistence, but she had genuine depth as a person and she brought a lot of her feelings to this play.”

While some students see stage plays and live-action film similarly, others seek out each medium with specific intentions regarding audience.

“I think the big deal with the differences is the approach you have to take with them,” radio, television, and film senior Brian Anthone said. “With film, I’m able to just put something on the screen and that’s where everybody’s attention is. With a play, you have to be very aware that people can look anywhere on the stage, so you have to figure out how to draw the attention to where you want it to be.”

Belmore said while writing the play was difficult, she ultimately found it rewarding because of how everything came together.

“Sometimes you get frustrated with all of the drafting, taking out some parts of the play, putting in new parts,” Belmore said. “But it’s all part of the work.”

“The Diver’s Wife” will show at the Studio Theater in the RTFP building March 11-13 at 7:30 p.m. with a final showing March 14 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.

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