The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, March 3, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Year in Review: Student playwrights see work staged

This fall, students took playwriting beyond the classroom.

The Writing for the Screen and Stage program’s “Long Story Shorts” festival and LAB! Theatre both gave student playwrights the chance to meet the goal of seeing their words come to life on stage.

In October, six UNC seniors in the graduating class of UNC’s Writing for the Screen and Stage program saw scripts they began writing last fall performed by professional directors, producers and actors in the “Long Story Shorts” festival.

Dana Coen, the festival’s artistic director and acting director of the Writing for Screen and Stage program, created the first “Long Story Shorts” festival this year.

“I was impressed with the ambition, the depth of vision and the individual voices of these writers, and it encouraged me to imagine a festival where we could present these plays to the public,” Coen said.

Coen brought together UNC staff, students and alumni to create what he said was a family affair.

Ross Maloney, one of the playwrights, said he was nervous and humbled when the actors first read his script.

“It’s been a lot of work involved, but every time it gets sharper and tighter, and it’s just great to come in and see the active process of taking your idea and making it something that is moving,” Maloney said.

In November, LAB! Theatre produced “Where the Ocean Meets the Sky,” a play by junior Patrick Robinson, who nearly quit writing plays to pursue his interest in rap music.

Robinson was awarded the UNC Sam Selden Prize for the original script in the spring of 2011 before he pitched the play to LAB! for production.

Robinson said his inspiration came from observing years of advertisements.

“It’s like looking at America as if you’re an archaeologist,” Robinson said.

He began writing the play in high school and finished revising it at his grandfather’s house in the Appalachian Mountains.

“It’s been a goal of mine to put this on,” Robinson said.

LAB!’s next student-written play — a piece by Sam Smith called “Stick Up Kids” — will be produced in February.

Coen said he hopes to make the one-act festival an annual affair.

“I want the students to get the chance to see their work live.”

Contact the Arts Editor at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.