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Always, Gene, a play written and staged by Beth Wynstra '01 last year as her honors thesis in English, is being produced by the Eugene O'Neill Foundation. The play, which Wynstra had presented on campus and at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, centers on the women in the life of author Eugene O'Neill. Wynstra gave a workshop on O'Neill for the foundation's Student Days at Tao House program in Danville, Ore., and attended auditions by the area junior high and high school students who would perform the play. The production was directed by seasoned Northern California theatre veteran Robin Taylor.

“I was thrilled that the foundation wanted to use my play,” says Wynstra. “I originally wrote it as a teaching tool. I'm teaching high school English now, so it was a wonderful, rewarding experience to work with high school students and teach them about O'Neill. The fact that it chosen to be performed in Danville was an exciting opportunity.”

Wynstra teaches American literature to juniors at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego and used the play in a major unit on O'Neill. “It fit well because it is an all-girls school and the play calls for an all-female cast,” she notes.

Suzanne Westfall, associate professor of English, who advised Wynstra on her thesis, deserves the credit for guiding her through the project last year and planting the seeds of a teaching career, says Wynstra. “'Zanne was such a wonderful influence and mentor in both my thesis and my life after Lafayette,” she says. ” I came to the realization at the end of my senior year that if I could be to students what she was to me, I would be a happy person. She was, and continues to be, an incredible mentor for me. The rest of the English department also has been so influential in terms of the lesson plans that I teach right now. I never went through an education credentialing program, but I feel so prepared and confident in the classroom. I attribute that to my education at Lafayette.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles