Arts & Culture / Mosaic / Theater / January 20, 2010

Dramaticism in plays brought to light

Junior Nathaniel Hults wrote an award winning play “No Time Like the Present” for the playwright’s workshop last term. “No Time Like the Present” is a one-act play, lasting about ten minutes. He went on to submit the play to the American College Theatre Festival, a nation-wide competition split up into four state regions.

Hults has been seriously writing plays for two years. He took a creative writing class in high school. He wrote a short screen play, which got him in the genre, particularly that of dialogue.

“I wasn’t really into [play-writing] until college,” says Hults.

Hults looks for interesting characters in a play. When writing a play, he asks himself, “Is this type of scenario conducive to interesting characters? Are they someone the audience can relate to?” Hults said, “An interesting character hits you more viscerally.”

He tends to write dramatic plays that are more serious in tone, but with comic elements. “Crazy Eyes,” a play he has been working on for this term’s workshop, is what he calls a “goofy farce.” It is being directed by senior Kelsey Ingle. In previous terms, plays received a more basic stage reading, but because of the Repertory Theatre Term (a term offered every three years, dedicated to theatre), “Crazy Eyes” will get more of a full production. There will be no costumes or designs, but it will be rehearsed for a month. Actors and writers are encouraged to become more involved.

Hults found out about the festival through his mother, who teaches at the University of Missouri. The school is a big participant of the American College Festival, which offers a large variety of theatrical categories.

His mother read “No Time Like the Present,” and showed it to one of the professors, who suggested submitting it.

The play was one of six selected by students from the third region: universities from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The festival lasted about a week, from January 5 to January 9, and was performed on the final day. The writer had to be involved in the whole process, and the focus was on improving the product.

During playwright’s workshop, he got a reading with some feedback, which he used to edit and submit the play. The changes he made were mostly superficial; it changed structurally and the dialogue became more realistic, but the core of the work was never altered. The tone, plot, characters, and themes all remained.

Hults, a theatre major, took a regular playwright class last year, and feels he has become more consistent and found a voice. Acting courses in seventh grade and high school have helped him from a play-writing perspective. It helped him see an actor’s way of thinking: how they can work with a role, how to improve it, and how to make roles easier to act convincingly. Hults hopes to continue to grow as a playwright and an actor, and take advanced courses in both.

Zoe Hatton

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