Alum Returns to WC Stage in ‘7 Lessons on Suicide’

By Kaitlin Tabeling
Elm Staff Writer

“How to write a suicide note: I have no idea!” exclaimed Stanley, a character from 7 Lessons on Suicide. 7 Lessons on Suicide, a play that showed Sept. 17 and Sept. 18 in Tawes Theater. The play is a delightfully sardonic perception on a typically morbid topic.

Stephen Spotswood’s play is a jet-black humorous look at suicide with a myriad of remarkably erratic characters telling the tale. Stanley, a relatively normal young man, rushes to talk Hannah, his beloved ex-girlfriend, out of committing suicide only to find that she is one of the attendees of a suicide party. There are five guests enjoying drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and, of course, suicide pacts. However, all bets are off when Stanley arrives on the scene.

In the center of all the suicidal plans and merrymaking is Hannah, a misplaced 20-something woman. Washington College alum Aileen Brenner, who plays Hannah in the production, said that her character is a “lost, unfulfilled, hopeless young woman” who is not even sure how she wants to commit suicide. As the play continues, Hannah becomes uncertain if she wants to end it all.

Brenner, on the other hand, knows exactly what is in her future. “My movie,” she said, referring to an independent picture she is filming in Baltimore.  “I’ll stay in D.C. theater with my job at American Land Title Association (trade association for title insurance).Then stardom, naturally.” Her film, Dreamless, has a tentative release date in two years. While discussing her spare moments, she laughs it off. “What free time? The movie takes up a lot,” she said.

Brenner has been acting for the majority of her life. While living in Los Angeles, Brenner began her expansive stage career with a commercial. “But that doesn’t count,” she said. “I can’t remember it at all.” At the age of nine, she moved to Maryland and started her stage career with plays ranging from high school to college.

At WC, she appeared in over 16 shows, and also stage managed and directed various shows. She was also president of “Fakespeare,” a student run drama organization, and an active member of the Riverside Players. Her favorite plays that she performed are Much Ado About Nothing, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, and her senior thesis, Tick My Box.

In addition, Brenner attended drama camp for seven years and had a summer theater internship for PlayPenn through WC. She is now an unofficial member of the Zero Hour Theatre troupe, an ensemble of WC Alumni.

Brenner graduated in the spring of 2009. “WC was just a really fun place to be,” she said. “It was a great, very nurturing environment where I could get a liberal arts education.”

Instead of clarifying what she wants people to take out of her performance in 7 Lessons on Suicide, Brenner actually looks at the bigger picture: the cast as a whole.
“There’s a lot to think about. I hope the audience takes each character as an individual study in a quirky group that comes together in a communal, if awkward, experience. The play has great characters, and it is smartly written and smartly structured,” she said.

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