‘The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence’ Q & A

By Ryan Janovic

*The following text has been edited for length and is not directly quoted.

The School of Theatre and Dance kicks off their production season Sept. 27 with “The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence” by Madeleine George. The play has an unusual structure centering around three separate groups of characters who live across different eras. Senior theater studies major and assistant director McKinzy Vanderlaan answered a couple of questions about the play.

Q: How was this play chosen for production?

A: Well, students and faculty who have read a lot of plays basically get together in a big room and say, “let’s think of our theme.” Usually the theater program has a theme for every year.

Q: What was the theme this year?

A: You never really know until the end of the year. Then you figure it out like, “Oh, the theme was love,” or “The theme was money” or something like that.

Q: When did you guys start putting the production together?

A: We had our first production meeting last semester, so they’ve been designing it since spring; our first rehearsal was a week before school started. The actors have had the entire summer to read the play and get to know the characters.

Q: The structure of the play might confuse some people. How are you going to keep it digestible for the audience?

A: I don’t want to give anything away, but you can tell with costume, you can tell with placement and where they are on the set. The way that they’re standing and how they speak. It will be easy to take it apart.

Q: One of the modern day plots is about an artificial intelligence named Watson. With technology being such a big conversation point today, is there an anti-technological message here?

A: I think that we’re trying to make commentary on technology in this time period, definitely. But I don’t think it’s about how technology is ruining our lives. I think it’s about how we can use technology to enhance and better ourselves.

Q: In terms of the cast, is there anyone you’re excited for the audience to see? How is the cast shaping up?

A: They’re shaping up beautifully, they just have to keep going. That’s how it is with theater; every day you come, you give what you got and you get a little bit better every day. As for the cast, I love all three of them.

Q: There’s only three actors in the whole play?

A: Yep, only three. And I love the character of Eliza, she’s extremely deep. I feel that even though it’s called “The Watson Intelligence,” she’s the main person, for me at least.