Interdisciplinary Studies Student Co-Writes Professionally Produced Play

Dara EpsteinFew students can say that they have studied abroad three times in three different countries, learned two foreign languages in college, and co-written a play that has been produced by professional actors in New York City. And yet, that’s precisely what Dara Epstein has done during her time at Appalachian.

Dara, a senior interdisciplinary studies student, co-wrote the play “By Wheel and By Wing”, which is based on the true story of the Parnes family, who survived the Holocaust and eventually immigrated to America. “Writing is an essential form of creative expression for me,” says Dara. “I like to communicate stories and explore issues through playwriting.”

Dara learned about the story through a call for submissions by the theater Act 3 Productions in Sandy Springs, Georgia. “They were seeking young writers to participate in a playwriting endeavor to bring the story of the Parnes family to life,” Dara says. She was one of seven student co-writers from across the Atlanta metro area. “We each brought something to the writing process,” Dara shares.

For a 10 month period, the group convened once every three weeks, and wrote scenes individually after participating in collaborative sessions in which they brainstormed how to tell the story. Eventually, the group met with the last two living members of the Parnes family, and discussed their stories in person.

Several staged readings of the play took place, beginning in Summer 2011 and ending with a final reading on a New York City stage on November 3, 2014. Additionally, the play premiered for the first time as a full-staged production in Summer 2012.

Dara hopes the story will unite and inspire its audience. “What I really hope is that the play will continue to bring people together, maybe from diverse backgrounds, to experience it and to bring it to life on stage,” Dara explains. “It is a story of a Jewish family, but it’s not a uniquely Jewish story.”

Dara will graduate in May 2015 with a self-designed degree and concentration in applied sustainability, and a minor in English with a focus on creative writing. “Students with such diverse interests and restless creativity need a place to pursue what fascinates them, and Interdisciplinary Studies is that kind of place,” says Dr. Joseph Gonzalez, Dara’s advisor. “Without the option to design her own major, I am convinced that Appalachian would have lost Dara to some other school, and she would now be a credit to some other university.”

For more information on “By Wheel and By Wing”, please visit

Published: Mar 26, 2015 2:12pm