Seniors seize their chance to write and direct, one scheme at a time



This year’s Senior Project tells the exciting story of Charles Ponzi.

Stamps. Investors. Fraud. These words are strung together through Charles Ponzi and his schemes which will be reenacted in this year’s Senior Project, “The Boston Swindler.”

The Senior Project is one of the Drama Society’s “Triples,” a yearly trio of shows which also includes the States play and the Spring play. It will be performed twice on January 20th and is directed by senior students from the drama department. This student-led process of playwriting and directing is both exciting and challenging.

This year, the Senior Project will be about Ponzi Schemes, a form of investment fraud where existing investors are paid using money from new investors. Senior Jeewoo Sonn, a co-director of this year’s Senior Project, said the play will work to break the schemes down, retelling the life of investor Charles Ponzi and who he was: a fraudulent yet sometimes moral man.

“It’s basically about his life and how he navigates the things that come his way. And it’s just a way for us to explore what makes someone a good person because, obviously, a Ponzi scheme is a form of financial fraud, but there are certain things that Ponzi himself does that one could define as acts of good,” Sonn said.

Senior Agnes Shales, the other co-director of the play, said she gained motivation to pursue the idea when her aunt introduced her to Ponzi.

“I was talking about writing the Senior Project and [my aunt] said she had been Googling Ponzi recently and his life was crazy. I was scrambling for something to write about so I thought that sounded like a good idea.”

Shales said the directors must decide roles to create, how to write them and how to separate written research into individual acts and scenes that connect and flow to one another.

“We started off with research. We basically wrote out his entire life story, and then selected the parts we thought were the most important and put that into an outline,” Shales said.

Sonn said that throughout the audition process, the two co-directors looked for specific characteristics of each actor and whether those lined up with what they believed the original character was like.

“We had our audition process, and we were taking notes on people we saw and being like, ‘Hey, this person would be interesting to see as this specific character,’ but I think it’s all about both altering our script to adhere to our characters and also doing the opposite process as well,” Sonn said.

Senior Project actor and junior Sigal Solomon said there are certain benefits to the play being run by seniors rather than teacher faculty directors.

“They are really fun and we still get a lot of work done, but it feels more light-hearted and accepting. They are very talented directors and I feel like there is an advantage to them being students because they can relate to us when giving notes and directions,” Solomon said.

Solomon plays the role of Rose, a prisoner and Ponzi’s wife, who first introduces Ponzi to specific forms of fraud. Rose dreams of having a family with Ponzi, while Ponzi is primarily focused on stealing money from investors, which is a major cause for tension in their marriage, according to Solomon.

“Playing Rose is different from roles I’ve played in the past. I usually play more comedic characters, and she’s more dramatic. It’s fun to play something that’s different, but it’s also challenging, since I’m not really used to it,” Solomon said.

Solomon said she is excited to continue the journey; the environment is accepting and the play concept is different and interesting.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know new people since this is the first show I’ve done with freshmen this year. I’ve not only maintained connections with old friends, but I have formed new relationships and that has been one of the best parts,” Solomon said.

Sonn said that the cast and directors are excited and motivated.

“Agnes and I are really excited for the play and our actors are too,” Sonn said. “So we’re looking forward to the process.”