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Love, Dice and Dragons: Q&A with student-playwright David Gallagher

Rolling For Charisma, written and directed by David Gallagher, a University of Oregon student and theater arts major, opens at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13 in the Pocket Playhouse and runs for two additional shows on Feb. 14 at 2 and 5 p.m.

The Emerald spoke with Gallagher about Rolling for Charisma, the challenges and rewards of playwriting and how to summon a love story out of a game of Dungeons & Dragons.

Where does the title Rolling for Charisma come from? 

Rolling for Charisma, I thought, was a very clever way of saying that this show is about not only tabletop role-play and D&D, but also about relationships. This is a show that’s about people. It’s about people trying to get along, people trying to get together, people trying to stay together… all surrounding this one game of D&D.

Could someone unfamiliar with D&D appreciate this show? 

Yeah, absolutely. The main character is actually unfamiliar with D&D, and so she’s a great guideline as the story progresses… we explain [D&D] in a very concise manner that is also relatable to the story. That was very important to me — that anyone could join this show, and that those with special interest would get extra bonuses from references and whatnot.

For many, D&D and love stories seem pretty unrelated. Why did you choose to blend them in this play? 

I find that our culture right now is becoming much more open about a lot of niche interests; people are being cut off from one another less and less because of their interests. So the idea of the extremely anti-social and geeky person who can’t get a date that everyone is so used to is starting to be replaced with the idea of people falling in love over D&D — people just forming these really strong relationships in whatever interests they have.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from this process as a playwright/director? 

As a playwright, it’s very important to stay organized. That was one of the fallbacks I had. As I was writing, and I had all my really fun ideas going, I lost track of some of my threadlines. As a director, this show has a lot going on. We have the real world, which is around a table. We have the fantasy world, which has fighting and things like that. And we also have sound designed by Gabe Carlin – he is going to perform as many of the sound effects as possible live. We have a lot of things up in the air. I’m learning that I don’t have to take care of every single little thing myself, that I can share my responsibility with others who are part of my team.

Any other thoughts? 

I think that this show is really fun. And it’s funny. And it’s very interesting that it’s coming out on Valentine’s Day weekend because it is just as much about relationships as it is about gaming. I think it’s a very fun date show, and I’m just really excited, and a lot of other people are excited, and I think we’re earning that excitement.

Rolling for Charisma is free for UO students, though a $1 donation to the Pocket Playhouse is suggested. Visit the Pocket Facebook page for more information.


Download our podcast with David Gallagher on our SoundCloud page.

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