By Cathleen Leitch
Julie Morcate, a junior English major, has taken her writing outside the classroom. She recently had a review of Memphis, a Broadway musical directed by Christopher Ashley, published.
The Broad Street Review, a review Web site, accepted Morcate’s submission of a review written for a class. The review was quickly accepted by the publication, two days after it was submitted on Nov. 16.
“I remember being really excited because it was a milestone,” Morcate said.
She began taking classes where she was assigned to review plays in spring 2009, so she had written several before seeing Memphis in November.
“It’s one thing to write for school newspapers, literary magazines and class assignments, but it’s completely different when you get the opportunity to be published professionally,” she said.
She had learned about the publishing opportunity from a member of a Philadelphia theater group, EgoPo, but had waited to submit any work.
Despite only having one review published and several submitted, Morcate has had a blog of reviews up since March 2009. The blog was originally created for a class, Reviewing and Publishing, taught by Dr. Mary Morse, but was continued after she realized she had followers.
The published review was written for a class, The Drama, taught by Dr. Jack Sullivan. When Sullivan learned that one of his students had been published, he wasn’t surprised that it was Morcate.
“She is a terrific writer, who came to me as a terrific writer,” Sullivan said.
While he said it’s very difficult to be published right now, there are some key factors.
“Some of this has to do with timing; you have to jump on something when it’s new,” he said.
When The Drama class went to see Memphis, it had just opened at the Sam S. Shubert Theater in New York City. Though Morcate had timing on her side, Sullivan said it was “really all her doing.”
Sullivan’s class gave Morcate opportunities to see more shows and help her to develop her writing style more.
“I analyze the motivations of the characters, the influence of the environment and time period, the cultural reflections, the literary significance, the themes and the playwright’s morality,” she said.
Her review of Memphis, entitled “Love, sex, race and the birth of rock & roll,” concentrates on how the show makes the crowd feel, what the experience of sitting in the audience was like and the way the actors’ portrayals affected the play. The plot is not an important aspect to Morcate, “since people go to plays to be surprised and to see the production realized in a unique way.”
Her reviews are written with opinion, including only facts that are necessary and relevant to the story.
“I feel like you’re supposed to come at a review with ideas of what worked and what didn’t, what was stunning and what left you disappointed,” Morcate said.
Being a published writer is a wonderful thing to Morcate, but she attributes her success to people who aided her in making the most of an opportunity, including EgoPo and Sullivan.
Morcate has reviewed Hamlet and an EgoPo production of Spring Awakening. Currently studying abroad in Spain, she has seen several productions and has not yet written a review, but this could change after she sees Une Odyssée this weekend. The review will be posted on her blog.
A founding member and former president of Rider’s feminist literary magazine HerStory, Morcate has also written for The Rider News and Venture literary magazine. When she returns to Rider in the fall, she intends to continue reviewing productions as a hobby.
To read Morcate’s Memphis review, visit the Broad Street Review Web site. To read other reviews by Morcate, visit her blog at http://jemreviews.blogspot.com/.