Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

Theatre and Dance

Document Type



Theatre is more than watching actors in the present. It can bring a magic into the room that connects us to a tangible ride of emotions. Sea shanties, a widely known variety of maritime singing, is purposely meant to bring its singers together. I wrote and directed an original one-act play structured around its repetitive beats, to create a communal feeling that will deem a sea of strangers a community for that day. The songs curated were specifically chosen to achieve that sense of community–songs that allow moments of reflection, toe-tapping, humming, and recognition. Phantom Pains is about a captain who dies at sea and is unable to move on from the guilt of losing his daughter. Until he meets Florence, his grandaughter. Florence gets the family she never had, but soon begins to live her life for the dead and not herself. It’s a play about facing what you’re afraid of, learning to let go, and becoming your true self.

While engaging with the audience through song is not new in the musical theatre world, drawing heavily from sea shanties is an innovative approach and tactic when building bridges between strangers and actors alike.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Michelle Dvoskin, Ph.D.


Creative Writing | Playwriting | Theatre and Performance Studies

Merena_PhantomPains_Poster.png (10104 kB)
The promotional poster for the live dramatic reading of Phantom Pains on November 12, 2022.