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“Wishful Thinking”: A Student Production

March 13, 2023 | Hailey Castrence |

Deja Gamble is the writer and director of "Wishful Thinking."

A young fairy named Ollie Petal was just awarded her first human wish to grant. However, her rival, July Evergreen stole the human’s wish. Now, Ollie and her best friend Bumble Willow must search through the land to find it before time runs out. “Wishful Thinking,” an original theatre production by English major Deja Gamble, teaches us that only we can forge our own destinies and not let others define who we are. 

Gamble is a senior at UWF, studying English Literature with a minor in theatre studies and is pursuing the certificate in Professional, Public and Technical Writing. Two of her ten-minute plays were previously  published and produced by Palm Beach Dramaworks when she was 16 years old. Since then, Gamble  has fallen in love with playwriting. 

Gamble has been working on “Wishful Thinking” for about 4 years now, starting the first draft when she was a senior in high school. Gamble saw a dandelion fly pass by her on a full moon night and said that "someone had lost their wish." She went on to write the whole play in a span of two weeks and has been rewriting and editing it ever since. 

In early 2022, the UWF Department of Theatre invited Gamble to hold a table reading for “Wishful Thinking.” “The energy at the table was amazing," Gamble said, and after additional  rewrites, she thought it was ready to be produced. Gamble composed a proposal for a student production at UWF Theatre and the faculty members approved the proposal. 

Gamble has applied for and received various grants to fund the show. These awards include a grant from UWF’s Student Government Association, an Alumnni award and a grant from the UWF Office of Undergraduate Research. Through OUR, Gamble also received a work study opportunity to learn about play production alongside her mentor, Marci Duncan, UWF assistant professor of acting. 

Duncan helped mentor Gamble through the writing process of her play. First, they worked on playwriting, but soon transition to directing. Currently, Deja is directing her play and learning every step of the way. At the end of their work study, Duncan concluded, “Deja is smart, creative and very motivated. When she first started this process she was very nervous about being able to accomplish such a big task, directing and writing but since has been gaining more confidence everyday… I am so proud at how far she has come.”

Gamble submitted “Wishful Thinking” to the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in November of 2022. In January of 2023, she received an email stating that her play would be performed at the research conference to celebrate the arts in research. Gamble was awarded the OUR travel grant to attend the NCUR conference in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in mid-April. After college, she plans on attending graduate school for playwriting with the end goal of becoming an artistic director or literary manager for a playhouse.

In preparation for the production, Gamble raised money to afford costumes, set pieces and props. She also worked with her team to create “Wishful Thinking”-inspired pins and fantasy-inspired bake treats to give out for free at the event. 

“Wishful Thinking” will show on Mar. 24-25 in the Besser Theatre at UWF CFPA, Building 82 on the Pensacola campus. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.  the Pensacola campus.  The play is rated PG-13 due to language and sensitive subjects. For more information, visit @UWFWishfulThinking on Instagram.