Nadine George-Graves speaks with graduate students in the Department of Theatre on Wednesday for the 150th Anniversary production. Credit: Jack Long | Special Projects Director

Ohio State love stories jump from page to stage through a project from the Ohio State dance and theater departments.

Graduate students from the dance and theater departments are creating a stage production this year to celebrate Ohio State’s 150th anniversary. It will incorporate traditional and abstract dancing, singing and acting.

Nadine George-Graves, professor of dance and theater and director of the production, said she and the students are tasked with writing their own script and conducting research on the university’s history.

“One of the first assignments was to go to the archives,” George-Graves said. “We were thinking about how to find a topic narrow enough that it’s interesting, but allows us access to 150 years.”

George-Graves said they settled on the idea of love stories.

“There are stories of pathos, of unrequited love, stories of interracial love and stories of controversy,” she said. 

George-Graves said the production will bring together visual projection, sound design and physical movement to tell the stories.

Twenty graduate students and production technicians are enrolled in a yearlong class taught by George-Graves. She asked each student to find an Ohio State love story, then create and perform a piece that expresses the lovers’ tale. 

“They can either perform it verbatim, gesture for gesture,” George-Graves said, or interpret the story, “abstracting it into something that might not look anything like the original.”

Students will work together to build a complete script, George-Graves said. It will be ready for staging in January.

“It’s definitely daunting because it could go in so many directions,” Jess Hughes, a graduate student in theater and production creator, said. “Right now, I’m trying to allow the piece to reveal itself, instead of saying, ‘This is what it is.’”

George-Graves said the piece will be “unapologetically lovely” and examine the university’s role as a place for lovers to meet.

“I want folks to come and not only think about the 150 years of Ohio State’s history but also think about the deeper missions of the university,” George-Graves said.

Graduate and undergraduate students will perform the anniversary piece in April at Roy Bowen Theatre, George-Graves said.