Rise in student interest to see original work performed leads to first play workshop

This year the Hastings College Theatre Department is beginning a Student Original Plays workshop, hopefully to become an annual event. The workshop was open for any student on campus to submit original plays to be reviewed by the theater faculty. All submitted work will be given feedback, but a few select plays will be chosen and performed in a livestream event on Feb. 28. 

Theatre department faculty Sarah Nottage-Tacey and Annette Vargas came up with this idea when they were notified that many students were interested in developing their own work. They wanted to be able to provide an opportunity for students to create original pieces and get feedback.

“It’s come from the situation that we have a lot of students in the last few years who have been really interested in wanting to perform a lot of their original work,” Vargas said. “This gives them an avenue to be able to create work, have it screened and to have an opportunity to workshop it and see what it looks like off the stage.”

The selected pieces will be workshopped, so students can have an opportunity to see what they look like performed, rather than just on paper. The selected plays will be critiqued and performed for the public.

“With COVID we will livestream it, but there will be a performance of the selected pieces. It will be more in the style of readers theater,” Nottage-Tacey said. 

Vargas noticed that after the virtual TV show this fall, more students wanted to create and direct short plays of their own, and wanted more opportunities to do so. Nottage-Tacey and Vargas created this program in order to support students and encourage them to continue their work, as it has many benefits.

“We have lots of people interested, and we can kind of help create a process where we can look at them, help critique and help them with that writing process. It’s also good for (applying to) grad schools, to have the opportunity to workshop pieces and put them on your resume,” Nottage-Tacey said. 

Additionally, Vargas and Nottage-Tacey wanted to create more opportunities to perform student-led pieces and to engage the broader school community.

“The Hastings College Theatre Program has really had a tradition of doing student-directed productions. There used to be a “brown bag” series, where students could create their own shows during the lunchtime experience, and we’ve kind of had to step away from that due to just the way things have been,” Vargas said. “We’re trying to bring back more organized student-directed opportunities so they can, across campus, both watch and experience what we do in the arts.” 

The theater has connected with the Languages and Literatures Department to try to find more students to participate, but they want the playwright workshop to be open to any student who is interested. In addition to the workshop, the theater program will be putting on three main productions this semester, including two capstone projects that will be live-streamed as well as an outdoor production directed by Nottage-Tacey.