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Marquis Scholar Terrence Monte ’03 (Valhalla, N.Y.) is immersing himself in an intensive year-long study of the various productions of J.M. Synge’s early 20th century play, Playboy of the Western World, to lay the groundwork for a book on the subject.

Monte, a mechanical engineering major and theater minor, is completing the project as a participant in Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students collaborate closely with faculty members on research while earning a stipend. He is assisting Michael O’Neill, director of theater, with initial research for a book he is writing about Playboy of the Western World.

A playwright and novelist, O’Neill has directed plays in the U.S. and abroad, including the Lafayette student presentation of Working, one of only five productions chosen from among more than 90 shows at mid-Atlantic schools to participate in the 32nd annual American College Theater Festival Region II program. Last year, Choral Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania presented Through Our Eyes, a Broadway revue commissioned from O’Neill.

O’Neill, who will be on sabbatical in Ireland during the 2004-2005 school year to do on-site research at the Abbey Theatre, explains that there have been thousands of productions of the play. Monte’s job is to gather reviews and photographs of various major performances around the world.

Synge is considered one of the key dramatists in the flourishing world of Irish literature at the turn of the century.

“The importance of this play is that it was crucial in the early development of the Irish National Theatre,” says O’Neill. “It was controversial because of the way it portrayed the Irish and cast a long shadow over future performances. Its importance to Terrence is that this gives him the opportunity to explore the world of theater in depth and, specifically, to look at the development and production history of important theater.”

This subject is one that Terrence began exploring in a Lafayette-funded January interim course in England and Ireland taught by O’Neill and Suzanne Westfall, associate professor of English.

“Terrence is among the brightest students I’ve ever taught,” adds O’Neill. “He’s imaginative and creative, and this project gives him the opportunity to explore those parts of himself.”

Monte says it is a pleasure to work for O’Neill. “I consider Michael to be one of the best professors, if not the best professor here at Lafayette. He brings enthusiasm to the classroom and a genuine concern for the well-being of his students.”

Monte’s approach has been to first get a firm understanding of the play itself. He is accomplishing this through critical reviews and his own skill at analyzing plays, which he has developed through classes and participation in about eight drama productions at Lafayette. He also is looking to other resources, including the theater collection of the New York Public Library. Monte will also pursue his love of theater by participating in Lafayette’s production of The Real Inspector Hound next semester.

“Theater has been a major part of my life for a little over nine years,” says Monte. “This EXCEL scholarship gives me the chance to get back into the theater community and to broaden my horizons.”

“Professional-caliber acting requires a deep understanding and love of people that takes a lifetime to master,” he adds. “I’ve fallen in love with bringing literature to life, creating a tangible interpretation of powerful ideas and stories.”

Monte is vice president of scholarship and head of the judicial board for his fraternity, Delta Upsilon. He is public relations chair for Interfraternity Council and sits on the Lafayette Arts Advisory Board, which focuses on bringing entertainment and learning to Lafayette. He spent the summer interning at Proctor & Gamble.

Categorized in: Academic News