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A Dramatic Operation

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For more than 85 years the Madame Walker Theatre has seen a myriad of artists take its stage, from local creators to greats like Ella Fitzgerald. This Friday the historic Indiana structure will host a rather unordinary cast of performers, consisting of medical students from across the state.

Students, staff and faculty from all nine Indiana University School of Medicine campuses and Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine unite for this first-ever comedy production. Reflecting satirical thoughts of medical school, the IUSM Second Year Show (2YS) will intertwine short skits and videos in a Saturday Night Live fashion, showcasing the artistic talents of Indiana's future physicians.

Students will exercise their creativity and share some of the inside humor that comes with the field of medicine. - COURTESY OF BENJAMIN ULRICH
  • Courtesy of Benjamin Ulrich
  • Students will exercise their creativity and share some of the inside humor that comes with the field of medicine.

"You think of the average medical school student, and you think of someone who is in the library from dawn til dusk, maybe not even helping his peers out. Ya know, very competitive," says 2YS copresident Ben Ulrich. "We've kind of been working to change that culture."

Last year, Ulrich approached 2YS copresident Ben Johnston with the initial concept for the show, with the hope of uniting IUSM's numerous campuses. He proposed to him an idea that he had seen done at some other schools on the East Coast, like Harvard and Yale, one in which faculty, alumni and students all come together for a theatrical class project. Eventually Ulrich's idea blossomed into an elaborate production with grand intentions.

The Second Year Show actors rehearse for tonight's performance at the Madame Walker Theatre. - COURTESY OF BENJAMIN ULRICH
  • Courtesy of Benjamin Ulrich
  • The Second Year Show actors rehearse for tonight's performance at the Madame Walker Theatre.

"We believe the Second Year Show will provide an opportunity for people to work together and really create innovative ideas that will eventually allow other projects to develop, almost like an incubator," Ulrich says. "Like, other students will have different ideas, which will help us interact with the community as a whole. So not only will our campus become more united and strong, but we'll be able to impact and interact with the community like we've never had an opportunity to do before."

Several students have been involved with the show's creation, many of whom have very little creative background. Skit executive Ross Schumacher humorously admits, "Most of us are really into science and stuff like that." Over the course of the preparation process, however, he says that many talented individuals have emerged to participate in the show.

"We had a lot of hidden thespian qualities that were able to come out," Schumacher says. "People who were kind of introverted naturally, but then when you say, 'Hey, I want you to do this,' and give them some lines, they do really well."

Schumacher admits writing skits for 2YS has definitely been "a process." But finding palatable humor in the world of medicine really wasn't too difficult, with jokes surrounding pretention, shame in the workplace and more. In fact, one of the skits in the production will even parody the show Parks and Recreation but with medical humor.

Med school's culture of cutthroat competition will be one of the topics "on the table" at the Second Year Show's humorous theatrical production.  - COURTESY OF BENJAMIN ULRICH
  • Courtesy of Benjamin Ulrich
  • Med school's culture of cutthroat competition will be one of the topics "on the table" at the Second Year Show's humorous theatrical production.

Through this experience, the students of the IUSM Class of 2017 have enjoyed themselves, too, finding satisfaction through this all-important creative release. Johnston reflects, "It really has grown into something we all kind of hold dear to ourselves. It's been a fun experience to see people interested in something outside of the classroom."

In the end, the hope is that Second Year Show can become a tradition at IUSM, strengthening relations between Indiana doctors and their patients.

For more information on the IUSM Second Year Show, visit the event's website.

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