literature

20.12.2019

A thesis defense

One-act comedy

(The Soviet physicist V. F. Turchin wrote the original play in the ‘60s. I’m offering here my version very freely translated from Russian and adapted to the modern Western reality.)

On stage — a big seminar room at the NRILB — National Research Institute of Logs and Branches. On the front stage — a massive wooden table located on the right; on the left — a podium with a bottle of water and a glass. In the background — a wide thoroughly cleaned whiteboard and a projection screen; some posters are attached to the walls on both sides. Seated at the table are the Chairman of the Examination Committee, the Candidate’s Ph.D. Advisor, and two official Examiners. Other characters are seated in the first row with the audience. During the play, they come on stage and then return to their seats. In this way, the spectator feels present in a real seminar room where the defense is taking place.

(The Chairman is a researcher in the NRILB — a renowned scientist with strong national and international visibility. He is an aged man, tall and with wide shoulders. He belongs to the category of people whose years-long awareness of their own authority and power has become visibly imprinted on their facial traits.)  

CHAIRMAN: (rising) Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this defense of the dissertation named “The effect of branches on the rolling of wooden logs on inclined surfaces” by Mr. Smart in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Wood Sciences. I invite the Secretary of Graduate Studies to read excerpts from the Candidate’s record. Mr. Neuter, please.

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