Elise Peterson’s “Decimation”


Decimation follows two girls as they navigate through Austin, Texas during the fallout of the apocalypse. Setting the play during the apocalypse was playwright, Elise Peterson’s, way of using a heightened reality to comment on rape culture, specifically rape on college campuses. The play will emphasize how society currently views rape culture and how it would compare if there were no rules to dictate society.

“This show, not only was something I felt passionate about, [but] I felt it was relevant to our campus, specifically in the wake of rape on college campuses and how our society has turned a blind eye to them,” said Peterson.

Peterson is a sophomore theatre and government dual major at The University of Texas at Austin. She wanted to submit her play, Decimation, to the Cohen New Works Festival because it is the first full length play she has ever written and believes the festival is a great opportunity for playwrights to produce and show their work. The idea for Decimation stems from watching apocalypse-themed TV shows such as The 100, which she highly recommends. 

As for theatre, Peterson shared with us how emotionally connected she is with the art form:

“I was always drawn to theatre,” shared Peterson. “I have always been a firm believer that theatre is one of the most human art forms because it is physically humans on stage [portraying] human emotions. I’ve always been drawn to why people feel the way they do. [As for writing], I have been writing my whole life, [and] it wasn’t until later in life that I realized I could do both of them at the same time.”

When asked who inspires her, Peterson shared that she is inspired by Wendy Davis, who has always been a role model for her, and by Paula Vogel, who she sees as a “strong, independent playwright.” But more specifically, Peterson is inspired by those she interacts with every day.

“A lot of the times the people who inspire me, get me thinking and make me want to write are people around me,” shared Peterson. “. . .my dramaturg, Austin Dowling, specifically [because] he has been one of the most influential people [by], not only making me believe I can write, but also by [helping] me curate that process.”

correct-hashtag-imagePeterson is most excited to work with her full artistic team and produce a project by herself for the first time. She hopes to get satisfaction, not only from producing this show by herself, but also from getting to show her work to other people.

Decimation is currently fundraising to help cover costs associated with putting on a play, such as offset construction, lighting, costuming and more. Consider donating to their GoFundMe and RSVP to their Facebook event here. You can also follow them on instagram at @DecimationNWF and follow their hashtag (#DecimationNWF).

Decimation is part of the Cohen New Works Festival, presented by the Department of Theatre & Dance at The University of Texas at Austin and sponsored by Broadway Bank. Don’t miss the festival April 10th through the 14th.