The Anastasia Stumpf Interview: author of VegSOUP's Truth Therapy

Each semester, the student organized VegSOUP funds a student-directed play that is performed in the Black Box. This semester, the production is Working Title a collection of three one-act plays written and directed by students. One of these segments is titled Truth Therapy and was written by senior Anastasia Stumpf. The Lamron sat down with her to delve deeper into her experience as a student playwright.

The Lamron: Could you give a brief plot summary of Truth Therapy?

Anastasia Stumpf: In terms of narrative, it's about a girl who's a compulsive liar and the process of her being "healed." Then it's the aftermath of when she's released from treatment.

The Lamron: What are some of the overall themes that the play presents?

AS: I think that what the audience is going to see as themes are probably things that the director will emphasize. But some themes that I kept in mind while writing it were the ability of people to change other people and how it's not always possible to change somebody else's nature.

The Lamron: What were some of your inspirations in writing the play?

AS: Well, one of my favorite playwrights is Adam Rapp. A lot of his work is very dark and involved with getting into a character's mind, and it's really reflected in how the play looks. So I think that reading a lot of his work has been an inspiration. Also, I guess the kind of film I'm into, like Girl, Interrupted and things that are dark.

The Lamron: What possessed you to write a play and to try getting it produced?

AS: Well, I'm graduating this year, and playwriting has always interested me. I'm actually applying for MFAs [Master of Fine Arts] in playwriting so I like to get as much experience as possible because I think the more you write, the better you get. So I thought this was a good opportunity to put something else out there that I had my name on.

The Lamron: What were some of the challenges in getting the play funded?

AS: The way that VegSOUP is working this semester is a little different than it has in the past. Usually, it's published plays or plays that have been performed professionally. So I guess the hardest thing was finding a director and then putting together something that the committee would like. It was just nerve-wracking to make sure that people liked your work.

The Lamron: What is your role as a writer now that the decision has been made to produce your play?

AS: My role as a writer is basically nothing. That's pretty common in playwriting, you just give your work to someone else, and they go do whatever they want with it. I'm OK with that. It's interesting to see how other people interpret what you put down and whether that's what you were thinking or if they add to it. It's nerve-wracking, but if you have a director you trust it's really okay.

The Lamron: How do you feel about having Renee Hartz as a director?

AS: I trust Renee a lot. I've talked to her briefly about some of her ideas. If she has a question about the script, she'll come to me. So we've talked a little bit about where she wants to go, and she is bringing things to it that I would have never thought to include as a writer. I've seen her work before, and she's an excellent director.

The Lamron: Can you give me an example of something she's brought to the play that you didn't think of?

AS: You'd have to see the show. I don't want to give anything away.

Working Title opens Thursday, April 5. Check The Lamron for future interviews with the various writers and directors involved in the production.