Plan II

Photo Credit: Nina Hernandez | Daily Texan Staff

A Plan II student, a liberal arts honors student and an Aggie fall down a staircase. 

“Ow,” the Aggie says.

“I meant to do that,” the LAH student says.

“When you really think about it, why do we have stairs in the first place?” the Plan II student says.

One only needs to turn to the UT memes page for evidence of Plan II’s reputation for eccentricity and intolerability. But to see how Plan II channels that notorious reputation into productivity, their theatre troupe, the Broccoli Project, offers the best example. 

The Broccoli Project started in Plan II, and while largely made up of Plan II majors, it’s expanded to encompass members from the rest of UT’s schools.

Nicholas “Hoo” Ray, a Plan II senior and co-producer of the Broccoli Project, said the eccentric character troupe is a product of the unconventional plays members pitch democratically each semester. They do not, however, fit into a well-balanced diet.

“We are a student-run, highly democratic theatre troupe, which focuses on dark comedies and avant garde plays,” Ray said. “But I don’t want to say avant garde because that’s pretentious as hell.” 

Broccoli has put on many unconventional plays in its time, including “Spanish Tragedy,” a bloody puppet show complete with a Splash Zone and a Scientology Christmas Pageant Musical. These groundbreaking endeavors into the new frontier of theatre may ruffle some feathers, but it’s one giant leap for these intellectuals.

Ray said the project he’s most proud of was a show the troupe performed a few years ago called “Oral Dad,” in which a young man communicates with his dead father through a ouija board tattooed on his tongue. (We don’t have any jokes for this part of the article, that’s just what the play is actually about.)

In the cut, The Broccoli Project is rolling up “Gallathea,” a play by John Lyly first performed in 1588, with Liberal Arts Honors’ troupe, “Foot in the Door.”

Patrick Greer, Plan II sophomore and Gallathea co-director, said Gallathea is a same-sex romantic comedy following two young women, disguised as men, who narrowly escape death and eventually fall in love.

Carly Stuart-Micocci, a senior in LAH and executive producer of Foot in the Door, said co-producing Gallathea with the Broccoli Project was a great opportunity for both troupes to overcome their honors rivalry and work together in the name of true artistic integrity. Two paths diverged in a wood, she said, and they took both. 

“In the past we kind of diverged, and as I took over as Foot in the Door’s executive producer this year, I really wanted to work together,” Stuart-Micocci said. “We don’t have to compete.”

Though it often seems that this town ain’t big enough for two schools full of inflated egos, Stuart-Micocci said Broccoli and Foot in the Door can be co-sheriffs — hopefully they’ll be okay sharing the badge.

In the past, the two groups butted enlarged heads over issues as large as the president’s hands, so now they’re taking a gargantuan leap over that bridge.

Stuart-Micocci said co-producing Gallathea with the Broccoli Project this semester is a way to put the water under the bridge.

“LAH and Plan II are sister programs, they were designed that way,” Stuart-Micocci said.  “I view the Broccoli project and Foot in the Door as sister troupes — I always have.”

Photo Credit: Alec Blair | Daily Texan Staff

Eavesdropping at an airport gate before a flight, Australian author Fiona McFarlane overheard a middle-aged couple nervously admit to each other they were terrified of the holiday they were about to embark on.

“It was so deeply touching and vulnerable but so silly at the same time,” McFarlane said.

The incident spawned a story in McFarlane’s latest book, a short story collection titled “The High Places.” The award-winning Australian writer and 2012 graduate of UT’s Michener Center for Writers gave a reading from the collection Monday night. The event was sponsored by Plan II and College of Liberal Arts Joynes Reading Series.

McFarlane said the book took her 10 years to write and was inspired by moments of inexplicable human behavior or oddities she observed around her.

“None of the stories in this book were written with the other stories in mind,” McFarlane said. “I hope that each story creates a different world. It’s about just the interesting or strange ways we engage in the artificial, that’s the thread that sort of binds the book together.”

The book won the Dylan Thomas Prize, an accomplishment that comes with $50,000 and is only given to authors under 40. McFarlane’s 2014 debut novel, “The Night Guest,” was also well-received by critics, chosen for the Voss Literary Prize and shortlisted for Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin.

When citing the accomplishments of McFarlane, who was born in 1978, English professor Kurt Heinzelman pointed out McFarlane’s youth. 

“She’s one of our local prizes, but she’s also a global prize,” Heinzelman said. “Not bad for a kid.”

“Buttony,” one of two stories McFarlane read from the collection, was an O. Henry Award winner, a distinction given annually to 20 short stories published in American and Canadian magazines. 

“I think ‘Buttony’ fits into the undercurrents of strangeness that I hope are in the book, of people behaving in ways that are sort of mysterious to them and the people around them,” McFarlane said.

Madison Schulz, a Plan II and business freshman, said she was almost transported by the stories McFarlane shared.

“The stories were really beautiful and poignant,” Schulz said. “The feel of the characters and of the situations going on were thrust on the listener. It’s something where each story is distinctive, but you feel like you’re there in each one.”