Gallatin troupe stages student’s play

After seeing “Life on the Moon,” it would be impossible to guess that it was Gallatin senior Anna Tatelman’s first attempt at script writing, a process that took her six months of drafting and revising. The play, which the Gallatin Theatre Troupe chose as its spring production, came to life on stage last weekend.

The story centers around a family with an autistic child and a son who is on leave from the U.S. Army, reflecting Tatelman’s attempt to combine two disparate ideas that she equally wanted to explore.

“I had these two disjointed ideas in my head and didn’t realize they could be conjoined,” she said. “I wanted to make a story where one of the characters had a disability, but the disability didn’t make up the entire plot.”

Tatelman drew inspirations for the play from her 20-year-old autistic brother. This personal connection to a character has allowed her to write in a honest manner.

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Tatelman said the documentary “Invisible War,” which explores the military justice system, was an inspiration for the military-based plot.

“It made me very angry watching this documentary, and usually when I’m very angry about something, I write about it,” Tatelman said.

Much of Tatelman’s writing has a social justice theme, a subject she has always been passionate about. Emily Cutler, a University of Pennsylvania senior who met Tatelman at a writing workshop when they were both in the 10th grade, feels that Tatelman’s ability to address important isuses is what makes her works
stand out.

“These issues [in the play] have affected Anna personally, and she is passionate about them, and that is clear in her writing,” Cutler said. “As an activist myself, I really admire Anna for tackling these difficult issues.”

Although Tatelman has been writing fiction since she was in elementary school, she did not attempt to write novels or more serious prose until she was 13 years old.

“Writing was a cathartic way to process my own experiences growing up,” Tatelman said.

Tatelman said the process of writing “Life On the Moon” was difficult at times, and required the senior to revise the play over winter break. Nevertheless, Tatelman’s friend Emily Brown, a CAS senior, vouched for her persistence in spite
of challenges.

“Anna’s willingness to go above and beyond in the editing process is what puts her ahead of the crowd as far as writing goes,” Brown said. “It’s easy to stop at step one, but it takes guts to go back, tackle your work, and really make an effort to elevate your writing from the first draft — something that Anna certainly achieved with impressive amounts of grace and perseverance.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 30 print edition. Email Amanda Morris at [email protected]

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