In a society still dominated by heteronormative outlooks and assumptions, the relationship issues that non-straight people go through can often be overlooked. However, “Rose and Psyche,” a one-act play written by Maddie Lemal-Brown ’18, depicts some of the problems that queer students can encounter as they navigate relationships and their families. Lemal-Brown’s play won Masque and Gown’s One-Act Festival on April 8. 

Lemal-Brown wrote “Rose and Psyche” over the course of about two weeks in February. It is about Sam and Hannah, a lesbian couple attending a college similar to Bowdoin. The play picks up a few days before Valentine’s Day when Sam’s very religious and traditional parents pay her a surprise visit. As a result, Sam decides that she wants to come out to her parents and introduce them to her girlfriend.

The play focuses on one’s struggles to successfully come out and the consequences that arise from being true to oneself. Lemal-Brown explained that her work explores the difficulties in deciding whether it is best to risk losing the people that you love if they fail to accept you for who you are or neglect to accept your own self.

“There’s my own story, my friends’ stories and just general experiences that we’ve had. It made me really think about the spectrum of acceptance that we receive for being non-straight,” she said.

Before picking up creative writing again at the start of this year, Lemal-Brown had not written creatively since she was in high school. 

Upon seeing a poster for the festival in Thorne Hall, she decided that writing and submitting a one-act play was a feasible challenge to set for herself. Her play went on to be one of the few selected and was assigned a director, James Jelin ’16, and actors. 

Lemal-Brown was excited to be able to watch her play come to life. 

“You get a huge adrenaline rush,” said Lemal-Brown. “It’s...a lot of things you will never [expect to] see outside of your own room or your own laptop, and to see it as a fully formed experience was really, really cool,” she said. “Being in the room with people who knew the story I was telling a lot better than most people just gave a lot of weight and responsibility to the words. It made me feel like I had a lot of power that I had to make sure I was careful with.”

Once her play became a reality, even Lemal-Brown acknowledged certain aspects that she had not previously noticed.

“It didn’t occur to me how educational it was until I saw it,” she said. “It does shed light on issues that a lot of Bowdoin students don’t have to think about or have never come across. I’m really happy that the play is doing something to give more visibility to queer students.”