Doan to perform 'Drifting,' a new play in development

Stephanie Swindle
April 06, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — "I could no longer stop anything. Not the vehicle she had been driving, nor her slow, endless leave-taking as we watched her body fold in on itself. We were drifting,” describes Bill Doan, professor of theatre and ADRI Embedded Researcher, about "Drifting."

"Drifting," a solo performance co-created by Doan and Andrew Belser, director of the Arts and Design Research Incubator, will preview at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, in the Pavilion Theatre. The play is based on Doan’s experience coming to terms with his sister’s traumatic brain injury and death, in his art and life.

Doan originally debuted a different version of the play in September 2015 at the Dixon Place Theatre in New York City and the Penn State Hershey Medical Center that served as a springboard for discussions about the ethics surrounding end-of-life decisions. The new iteration revisits the life of Doan’s sister and the role that time plays in what and how one remembers. 

“This version of the play is more about her life than her condition,” explains Doan, who has removed the hospital bed and other actors from the stage, creating a space with Doan, his sister’s voice (voiced by the actress, Megan Pickrell, who played his sister in the first version), and a screen that features a montage of home movie footage from childhood, drawings from Doan’s developing graphic novel of the story, and archival cinematic footage.

Doan will perform the new version, still in development, in advance of his premiere in New York City on May 18 at the Royal Family Performing Arts Space.

The Arts & Design Research Incubator (ADRI) provides support for high-impact arts and design research projects. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call 814-863-5126. Connect with the ADRI at

  • Bill Doan

    William J. Doan, Penn State professor of theatre and former associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Arts and Architecture, will begin a three-year term as director of the Penn State School of Theatre on July 1, 2017.

    IMAGE: Sam Ardry

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Last Updated April 07, 2017