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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Festival displays student-run plays

Tim Lai — THE BATTALION
Students act out a scene from “Cold Soles” Wednesday night. 
Tim Lai — THE BATTALION Students act out a scene from “Cold Soles” Wednesday night. 

A Marilyn Monroe musical, a comedy, a murder drama and an absurdist play about two guys and a refrigerator — the Student New Works Festival is in full swing.
The festival, which began Feb. 27, continues Thursday through Saturday in the Blackbox Theatre and showcases student actors and directors from the Department of Performance Studies.
The main event in for the 2015 festival will feature performances of “Dear Norma Jeane,” “Viola Sees a Ghost,” “Cold Sole” and “Black Widows.”
Kristina Miller, instructional assistant professor of theatre arts, said the multitude of talented students at A&M deserve to have a platform like the festival through which students can share their ideas and passions.
“It’s important to give them the opportunity to share their ideas and take pride in their work,” Miller said. “It’s also a huge learning experience — there is so much that goes into producing any kind of live performance. Many of the aspects of producing go unseen or seem minuscule.”
The festival is open to everyone, not just performance studies students. This year, just over 40 students are involved in the festival, including Stephen Steele, theatre freshman, an actor in three of the four showcased plays in the festival.
“The students, the department, or just anybody, is allowed to submit a proposal to write their own show and have a budget and direct it through the university,” Steele said.
The semester-long process to prepare for the festival can be daunting for writers looking to have their work performed for the first time, Miller said.
“Start early. Plan ahead. Get your script or proposal finalized and have several people proofread them,” Miller said. “Try to put together a production team who is as passionate about the project as you are. Find a faculty mentor who has experience producing the kind of work that you are attempting to produce and meet with them regularly.”
After returning from winter break, the actors and directors had less than a month of preparation until show time. The festival functions as a workshop, meaning the performances will not be as perfected as professional plays. Still, in those three weeks, the performance studies department students worked to settle every detail they may have overlooked.
Chris Haley, writer and director for “Cold Sole” and theatre arts junior, said the amount of work in the production process has been a learning experience.
“Lighting aspects didn’t even cross my mind,” Haley said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to turn the lights off and on.’”
Haley said his play was inspired by a true and common event. Haley said he didn’t want to spoil the play by revealing too many details, but he did hint at the lighting design is something the audience should watch out for.
“It’s about two roommates fighting over their fridge,” Haley said. “When you get down to it, that’s about the gist of it.”
“Cold Sole” is Haley’s first written and directed play. Haley said he got a confidence boost from the experience through the process of experimenting and seeing his work performed.
Those involved in the Student New Works Festival usually exit center stage feeling more confident about their work, said Miller.
“I hope that all of the students involved walk away and feel pride in their achievements but also I want for them to have desire,” Miller said. “A desire to do it again and to use what they have learned to do it even better. They all have the potential to create. After this I hope that they are confident in their abilities.”
Performances are free and begin at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Blackbox Theatre in the Liberal Arts Building, however seating is limited.

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