FSC senior to showcase original play at prestigious theatre festival

Caroline Bryant | The Southern Newspaper Artwork by Natalie Leah | The official poster for “Mushy.”

Caroline Bryant
Features Editor

Mushy: to be “excessively sentimental or emotional,” Dictionary.com says.

So when FSC senior KG Uslan needed a title for their original play, Uslan knew the adjective would perfectly depict the “ooey-gooey” feelings they hoped to portray.

Mushy is an essential word in Uslan’s vocabulary. It was a word they used so often with their previous partner that it just stuck.

“Now it becomes like this encapsulating word for me that is just like finding the people in your life that make you feel safe, confident and free,” Uslan said.

Uslan never started with the intention of creating a full-length play. What began as a quick, written-down monologue for a Valentine’s Day-themed night of Theatre After Dark in 2021 expanded into a 10-minute monologue for a theatre directing class workshop in early 2022. The 10-minute version depicted the first couple in the show, Sophie and Jamie, two college kids in the earlier stages of their relationship.

After workshopping the monologue, Uslan wanted to play with the idea of beginnings, middles and ends of relationships. They spent the summer of 2022 completing the first draft of their full-length play, including Sophie’s and Jamie’s original monologue.

The draft would feature two more couples, Mona and Kit and Nedina and Chuck. Casting for the show began in January 2023. All eyes were on the FSC theatre department.

Theatre alumni Kai Anderson and Christine Sells would compose original music and organize the sound design for the show. Senior Natalie Leah would design the cover art. Senior Lauren Thomas would choreograph scenes. FSC students financed and brought the show to life.

Caroline Bryant | The Southern Newspaper Photo by Caroline Bryant | FSC students rehearsing the beginning scenes of “Mushy.”

With Uslan’s stage manager, senior Jack Soebel, they looked through the theatre department’s Canvas page listing every student in the department. The two discussed students they thought would fit certain roles, added their names to an Excel spreadsheet, and emailed them asking if they were interested in auditioning.

“I already had established roles due to the framework of the show,” Uslan said. “It’s very methodical because there are three couples, so I didn’t add any characters, but it was fun to see people where I was like ‘I really haven’t seen you act a lot,’ or ‘I haven’t really seen you do this type of stuff,’ so I was excited to see what they bring to the table.”

Senior Alex Jacobsen, who read for the role of Jamie during the workshop, was cast as Jamie. Freshman Sonya Dadekian completes the duo as Sophie.

“I sort of counteract some of the softer sides which is that of Sophie’s, and it’s sort of their first time being asked out by someone who they really like back and reciprocate their feelings,” Jacobsen said. “I play a non-binary character and it’s sort of coming to terms with also their own sexuality, so it’s a coming of age story and it is a very mature story thematically.”

While this is not Jacobsen’s first time in an original– previously playing “the big bad guy” in Anderson’s musical– being a part of Uslan’s show is more personal.

“I think just the fact that it’s written by someone who I’ve been good friends with since freshman year and I’ve never been really able to see the depths of their writing, because their writing is so connected to their own experience and I just thought it would be so interesting to be a part of that and see their inner workings are and how that manifests in their own writing,” Jacobsen said.

Vulnerable writing that will be showcased to international audiences at the Orlando Fringe Festival– which their website says is the “longest-running Fringe theatre in the world.”

This is a groundbreaking step towards their career in the industry, being their first project post-graduation. The play will be performed in the blue venue on seven given days from May 18-28, competing with other originals presented in their venue. The two plays in each venue that sells the most tickets for their show receive an extra performance day and are named Patrons’ Pick.

But the idea of “Mushy” was not pursued solely for a prize.

“The goal of Fringe for me is just to see how my work appears in front of an audience,” Uslan said. “For the most part I have not had my work shown in front of people other than friends and family, or other people at school, so getting to showcase it in front of other people who don’t know who I am is really exciting. It’s like ‘This is something that I can do.’”

They want the audience to walk away with that sudden, sappy emotion stuck in their chest– to feel mushy.


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