Christian Dames is getting the opportunity to see his words brought to life.
A junior Secondary Education and English major, Dames has written a play titled Chains that will be performed during Midland University’s One Act performances Friday and Saturday at Kimmel Theatre. Performances begin at 6:30 p.m. each evening and are open to the public free of charge.
An accomplished writer, Dames has had poetry pieces published in both Bits of Flint as well as a literary journal. But playwriting has always been his passion, which was sparked during the 2020 fall semester when he took a Theatre of the Absurd class at Midland. “Taking that class really gravitated me toward the absurd genre, and that’s when I began developing Chains,” Dames said. “This past summer, the Fremont Opera House hosted a Playwright Conference where your entries were judged and critiqued by professional writers. That was a great opportunity because I actually got to hear my play being read.”
Chains is a one-act performance that critiques the prison system. Its three main characters are each incarcerated, one who has gone insane while in prison, another who has been a long-time prisoner, and another who has been recently jailed. “The play follows their interactions as they gradually shift roles,” Dames said. “It’s a critique on the cyclical nature of prison.”
Although Dames says he has no direct connection to the prison system, he has a friend whose family has been affected by prison, which helped motivate him to write Chains. “I really feel for the family, and I wanted to write a story that spoke to that,” he said. “You see how society functions and how it needs to be addressed. As a writer, I’m not doing my part if I don’t speak to that.”
The absurd genre is of great interest to Dames as he believes it gives the audience an entirely different perspective on what they are used to viewing. “The absurdity genre at its core does two things,” he said. “It takes a critique of society and displays it in an absurd manner. It also breaks all traditional theatre conventions. When the audience is expecting one thing, absurd theatre does everything to throw that out.”
Midland student Yajayro Borrego will serve as director for Chains, allowing Dames to take a bigger picture role during rehearsals and performances. “As a writer, this gives me the chance to see how another director interprets my script, and I’ve enjoyed that experience,” he said. “I can provide clarification when needed, but mostly, I’m just there for support.”
Dames did have a role in selecting the cast, and he’s grateful for all their work in bringing his production to fruition. “With these one-act performances, you get to see a lot of different actors at varying levels of experience,” Dames said. “Our cast has been phenomenal to work with. My words are just a pile of paper without them acting and bringing it to life. It’s also very cool for me to know that my peers are the ones putting on my first show.”
Chains has provided Dames an opportunity to expand his writing skills and work toward becoming a screenplay writer. “I love writing poetry and fiction, but there’s something about scriptwriting that’s always appealed to me,” he said. “I enjoy acting, but that’s not my passion; writing is. It has been so rewarding to see this show come together, and I feel like it’s validated me as a writer to hand this script off to someone else and see it performed.”