Controversial Playwright Mark Ravenhill Visits Campus

Brimming with people last Thursday evening, November 11, the Persson Hall auditorium wel­comed English actor, director and playwright Mark Ravenhill, who gave a presentation as part of the Living Writers Lecture series.

Ravenhill got his break by chance. His first successful play was one he wrote with friends to perform. London has a good amount of small performance areas in bar-like settings that Ravenhill planned on using. He decided to send it around to publishers on the off-chance that it would get atten­tion; it did.

Ravenhill dazzled the Colgate crowd with a short “piece.” His performance was eerie and kept the audience constantly thinking. In his miniature one-man play, Raven­hill presented a scenario where a couple experiments on their chil­dren to research a cure to a disease. This stemmed from a conversa­tion Ravenhill had with students at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). The conversation took place when he was there to guide students on their 10 week independent projects. A student had been concerned with the rights of animals and that got Ravenhill thinking of all the nasty things that normal people do not think about on a daily basis. And thus the “piece” was born.

A trademark of Ravenhill’s plays is his excessive use of profanity which he purposely uses to emulate real life. He told the audience how he hears a surprising amount of profanity in public places. The pro­fanity in his plays is meant to reflect “how cruel we are.”

Senior Caroline Callahan felt that Ravenhill’s 20-minute per­formance had a “shock factor” and that it was a “really different monologue” that was “refreshing.”