using art for social change

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Florida State University is home to many organizations dedicated to social change as well as a number of live theater programs, but very few students are aware of the business that combines these two areas of campus life. White Mouse Productions (WMP) is a student-run theater program committed to supporting social change and fundraising.

“People who want to feel like they’re making a change or contributing to our community can always find a home with White Mouse,” said Danielle Wirsansky, a second-year doctoral student in FSU’s Department of History and current Vice President and General Manager of White Mouse. Productions. “You don’t have to be a theater specialist to be part of this company or have experience. It’s a place to try new things that you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the chance to do.”

Danielle Wirsanksy was president and founding artistic director of the organization from 2016 to 2018, and director of marketing last year after taking a break between her master’s and her doctorate. It strongly emphasizes WMP’s general appeal to anyone who enjoys any aspect of theatre, be they performers, designers, directors or writers. The members combine their talents to produce theatrical events in different genres to raise funds for different causes. Their performances will often center around important social topics that resonate with the members.

“White Mouse and four other RSOs were able to raise over $350 for Treehouse of Tallahassee, a local children’s organization that cares for abused and neglected children,” said Rachael Britton, Chief Financial Officer of WMP. “It was a really fun night for a good cause and I’m really proud of how it turned out.”

WMP produces and participates in a wide range of theatrical events including readings, play festivals, full-length play productions, workshops and musical concerts. Additionally, they host social events such as game nights, skate nights, and community volunteer experiences, as well as their own biannual improv show: “Whose Show Is It Anyway?” Recently they hosted a reading of a new play written by student Jared Smith called “We’re Tiredment Home”, a comedy about residents of a nursing home using a grandson to escape.

As evidenced by Smith’s performance in the play, WMP offers writers incredible opportunities to see their scripts come to life. On October 7, they held a workshop-concert of a new musical entitled “The Hock-Cock-A-Mook Islands”, whose screenplay and lyrics were written by Danielle Wirsansky. Current WMP President and Artistic Director Liam Wirsanksy was also able to see his first complete one-act play on stage thanks to the organization’s playwriting grant.

“White Mouse gave me the opportunity and the confidence to be a writer,” said Liam Wirsansky, who has been involved with the business for six years. “As the pandemic finally derailed the in-person aspect of production, it was amazing to see my words and writing come to life for the very first time.”

All of WMP’s work and contributions are due to the efforts of its four Boards of Directors – Administration and Communications, Production, Finance and Marketing. As Danielle Wirsansky pointed out, there is a place for anyone looking to create change at WMP. Luckily, all boards, aside from marketing, currently have vacancies.

“Anyone looking for a solid group of people to spend a good deal of their time with will find a happy place at White Mouse,” said senior marketing manager Kenny Kleinknecht. “The other part of what we offer is community – not just within the organization itself, but White Mouse has worked with other organizations on campus and in the greater Tallahassee community to create bigger and better things every year.”

For upcoming events and more information about the organization, follow their Instagram @whitemouseproductions or check out their website at www.whitemousetheatreproductions.com.

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