"I believe the best coders are artists. They have a natural affinity for beauty and design. There is, in fact, such a thing as beautiful code."



Dean of the College Mauri Ditzler congratulates Abbott's following his selection for the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Award for Excellence in Teaching.






Check out upcoming productions for this year's Wabash College Theater season.


Summer/Fall 2001

Confessions of
a Hacker Groupie

The winner of the College's teaching award combined his unabashed admiration for computer programmers, sabbatical research in Silicon Valley, and his skills as a writer/director to stage the most innovative and thought-provoking play to light up the Wabash stage in years.

by Michael Abbott ’85

Theater professor Mike Abbott may be the only actor/playwright running Linux as his computer's operating system.

He's certainly the only guy who's written Linus Torvald into a supporting role in a play—his hilarious, touching, and eye-opening ride into hacker culture and Silicon Valley called Deadfish, Idaho. Featuring staging and set innovations that literally put actors in the audience's face, Abbott's breakthrough production packed the College's Experimental Theater for its full run in February.

Deadfish was a work in progress almost up to opening night, with Abbott revising and cutting scenes (including Torvald's bit part) and tweaking lines based on input from actors and others. That spirit of collaboration infused the entire production, cast members said—no surprise for those who've seen the former Wabash theater major's previous productions.

From the inventive adaptation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, set in the 1920s to a jazz score, his team-teaching with other Wabash faculty in courses from Shakespeare to C&T, Abbott's collaborative approach has brought out the best in himself, his colleagues, and his students.

And though the look on his face revealed Abbott's surprise at being honored with the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Award for Excellence in Teaching, the honor is a fitting capstone to seven creative years reaching across the disciplines and across campus to embrace a true liberal arts approach his vocation.

The week before Deadfish, Idaho opened, Abbott presented a colloquium entitled "HackerPhreaks and CyberGeeks" detailing some of the ideas driving the play. The following edited excerpt offers insights into the world of hacker culture Abbott immersed himself in during the writing, as well as a snapshot of actor/ liberal arts graduate who penned the script:

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