Thesiscrazy!!!: Emily Chackerian

Today’s thesisier in the spotlight: Emily Chackerian ’20 ! Starting with an idea from her sophomore year, Emily wrote a WHOLE play that has it ALL: grandparents, jazz, and nostalgia. Continue reading after the jump to hear Emily talk more about the writing experience, her mental state, and the potential for a Westworld musical.


Emily Chackerian ’20 uses she/her pronouns and is a double major in English and Theater. Her thesis, in the theater department, is an original play called “Survived By.”


On her topic:

“[Survived By is] about my grandparents basically. The plot is, these two grandchildren are cleaning out their grandparents house after the death of their grandmother and kind of reflecting and trading stories about their grandpa, who was a jazz musician sort of but also like an engineer, talking about the past. Yeah, it’s pretty small scale.”


On how she thought of topic:

“I took Advanced Playwriting when I was a sophomore and I was going to write it as a play in that class. And then there was someone in the class who told me it was a bad idea, so I didn’t. And I kept it on the back-burner. And then last year, I was like, ‘I think I’ll write it now.’”


On her writing process:

“It’s pretty haphazard. I don’t write anything in order. I just kind of write whatever. Like ‘cause it’s a play I just write the scenes when I have ideas for the scenes. Also, because it’s kind of based on my family, I interviewed a couple people and also just talk to my mom in a non-interview casual setting. Yeah, it’s kind of messy. I finished the first draft in January. So this semester has just been me either ignoring it or editing.”


On her current mental state:

“It’s fine. i think i alternate between [either] every time I look at it, I’m like, ‘This is good. I wrote something good’ and then being like, ‘This is the worst thing I’ve ever written.’ It’s a weird balance. But I mean, I finished another draft of it this weekend. So like, In terms of turning it in, it’s in a good place. But in terms of me liking it, it depends.”


On her favorite form of procrastination:

“Okay, once we got the email that we weren’t going back until like a week ago I didn’t work. I just did nothing. So now that I have a deadline coming closer, I’m working again… I’ve been watching Schitt’s Creek, so that’s been fun. Um, I don’t know. I cleaned the entirety of my room. That’s the big one, I think. Everything is dusted. I reorganized all my bookshelves. They look the same, but I did it. My closet’s clean. So that was the big one, I guess.”


On post-thesis plans:

“Alessandra [Viegas ‘20] and I have been joking about how we want to write Westworld: The Musical. So I think that. That’s my plan. Otherwise I’m like ‘Dad, you have to buy me champagne and I’m gonna sit on our steps outside. I’m gonna drink it by myself.’” 


On her favorite part of the thesis:

“In terms of the process, I love my advisor. I love Rashida McMahon. Just talking to her about [the thesis] always brings me joy. Yeah, it’s been fun! In terms of what’s in it: There’s a scene where the granddaughter and her aunt discover love letters written between grandparents after they first met. I think that’s my favorite part of the play itself. Apparently my aunt did discover love letters recently, but she didn’t share them with me. So I kind of made it up.”


On advice for future thesis writers:

“I think deadlines are good for yourself. And they don’t have to be like ridiculous deadlines, but having them — I don’t know. Personally, I like to procrastinate. And then when I have a deadline coming up, I become really productive. So that’s super helpful for me. And I think not forcing yourself to work over the summer beforehand, but forcing yourself to think about it, write down notes over the summer.”


On repeated phrases: 

“I think stage directions is fun to think about. I decided to use different words for beats and breaks in the play. So basically, the gist of it is they’re going through these boxes and boxes of CDs and records. So instead of writing ‘beat,’ where there’ll be a pause or a skip, sometimes when I shift to the middle of the scene I put ‘scratch.’”


On other things she wants to mention:

“If anyone wants to do a zoom reading of my play… Let me know!”


On theses feces:

“They’ve been inconsistent but good. Better. Like, I have this nice schedule at school. Like every day like at like 10:50. but that’s gone.”

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