Bornstein's play brought to stage by theater students

Photo Credit: Theater students
by Nikoel Hytrek Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:20

Brian Bornstein has been writing plays since he was in high school. 

Bornstein, a psychology professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has worked to get his plays produced. But he hasn’t been involved in the theater department at Nebraska until this semester.

Bornstein’s play “Oracles” was included as part of graduate student Dustin Mosko’s advanced directing project. The play is about decision making, an area of behavior Bornstein researchs. It’s alsowhere he got his inspiration to write.

“Oracles” is Bornstein’s first play, which he wrote almost eight years ago. Over the years, “Oracles” has changed a lot, and he’s written more. 

Bornstein said he submitted the play to a competition at Drury University in Missouri 10 years ago, where it received an honorable mention, though the play wasn’t chosen for production at the end of the competition. 

“But it was encouraging that it did well,” Bornstein said.

It wasn’t until Mosko chose Bornstein’s play for his class project that “Oracles” was finally put on stage.

Mosko said part of the assignment was to find a new play written by a local playwright and work with them to take it to the stage. The other part was to write and direct a collaborative, improvised play. This is called devised theater. 

Mosko found Bornstein and “Oracles” through the playwriting collective hosted by the Angels Theatre Company, a theater group in Lincoln. 

Judy Hart, director of Angels Theatre Company, organizes the group of playwrights who meet once a month to read each other’s work and provide feedback. 

“We’re really a sounding board for ideas,” Hart said in a phone interview. 

The group has existed for four years and Bornstein said some of his plays have been produced for the Angels Theatre Company’s annual “First Flight Festival,” which takes place in the last two weeks of July in the Temple Building. He’s also one of the founding members of the collective.

Hart said she likes to work with the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film whenever she gets the chance, so she invited Mosko to one of the group’s meetings. That’s where Mosko met Bornstein.

Bornstein said he’s had a good time working with Mosko and the actors, and that he would work with the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film again. 

“The fun part for me is going through the whole process of seeing what I’ve written come to life onstage,” he said. 

Mosko and the actors invited Bornstein to rehearsals and gave him feedback so he could make revisions during the rehearsal process. Bornstein said the actors also asked for his suggestions. 

“So it’s been very collaborative, which I appreciate,” he said. 

Bornstein said he’s been interested in getting his plays produced and working with theaters in Lincoln, but it’s hard because he doesn’t have connections.

He tried to get involved in theater in college, but he had so many interests that it fell by the wayside. He never took a formal playwriting class, but he’s done a few workshops.

“I write these plays because I like writing, and it’s fun to imagine these different worlds,” Bornstein said.

Bornstein said there are pros and cons to being outside the theater world. 

“On the con side, I feel a little bit like I don’t belong, and it’s not because anyone treats me that way,” he said. “It’s just because I don’t have that shared experience.”

Bornstein said the positive parts have outweighed the feeling of not fitting in.

“[Theater people are] very talented and creative people so it’s been a lot of fun getting to know them,” Bornstein said. “They think it’s great that I’m doing this even though I am sort of moonlighting.”

Story and photo from the Daily Nebraskan.