Current News

Research Examines the Intersection of Theatre and Film

Jul 09, 2018


Ashley Snead and Janet HayatshahiThis summer, Randolph-Macon College student Ashley Snead '19 is pursuing a research project that she hopes will set the stage for an exciting career.

An archaeology and theatre major and classics minor, Snead is participating in the Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. SURF students conduct 10 weeks of research while receiving mentorship from a faculty member. Working under the guidance of Theatre Professor Janet Hayatshahi, Snead is researching Closet Land: Combining Theatre and Film for a Psychological Thrill.

Film + Theatre
Snead's research examines how film and theatre blend together in a mediated production of the play Closet Land. Snead, who will be directing Closet Land this fall on campus, will incorporate video footage in the production.

"In Closet Land, the protagonist is an author of children's books whose work has sparked the government's suspicion that it is a subversive allegory for the struggles of the resistance," explains Snead. "Through my research I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the play itself and directing as a whole in both theatre and film. I also want to find new ways that theatre and film can complement each other."

From Storyboards to Editing
On most days, Snead can be found in a cozy spot in the McGraw-Page Library, reading and taking notes.

"I am reading books about film directing, and I also have a really interesting book on storyboarding—graphic organizers in the form of illustrations displayed in sequence for the purpose of visualizing the end-product." Snead also watches videos of other mediated performances, and as her research progresses, she will scout locations for the mediated parts of Closet Land. Once she has the footage she needs, she’ll begin the editing process.

A Driving Force
Snead, a recipient of the Robert Epes-Jones Scholarship in Classics and a Presidential Scholarship, says that mentorship is a driving force in her success as a researcher.

"Professor Hayatshahi meets with me every week and is available whenever I have questions," says Snead. "She is there to ask me questions, and to challenge me. Having a mentor is helpful for when I get stuck or feel unsure about where I'm taking this research."

Hayatshahi says, "Ashley is doing some deep research this summer, examining the psychology of two complicated characters and trying to bring the various layers of their psyches on stage through the use of film. Having live performance hold hands with a mediated form will no doubt deepen the storytelling in Closet Land."

Campus Life, Future Plans
Snead is a member of the Theatre Club, the Honors Program, Alpha Psi Omega, and Omicron Delta Kappa. She also serves as a mentor Resident Assistant. Her future plans reflect her passion for the arts.

"I plan to work for a year in some sort of film environment—perhaps a production company," she says. "After that, I plan to attend graduate school and study directing."