The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

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

LAB! turns to established playwrights

This is the last in a series of stories this week showcasing the student playwrights featured in LAB! Theatre’s “One Acts in the Park,” which begins Saturday at Forest Theatre.

LAB! Theatre was not looking for playwrights with a history.
But while selecting short plays to feature in Saturday’s “One Acts in the Park,” the company chose plays by Patrick Robinson and Sam Smith, who were both previously involved with LAB!

Robinson’s “Where the Ocean Meets the Sky” was produced in November, while Smith’s “Stick-Up Kids” was on stage in February.

Evangeline Mee, literary manager for LAB!, said it was coincidental that they were both chosen.

“We wanted to facilitate a place for these (established) playwrights, while also cultivating new people who had not written plays before,” she said.

For the festival, Robinson wrote “Festival of Clouds,” which tells the story of a college-aged couple who drive from New Jersey to South Carolina.

“I wrote it in one sitting,” Robinson said. “There’s nothing impressive about it. It’s more of a challenge for the director and the actors to make it into something that’s good.”

George Schlosser, who is directing “Festival of Clouds,” said the script was deep.

“It’s very intuitive in a way,” he said. “But we did have to find ourselves going through the play to find out ‘what does this line mean?’”

Robinson, inspired by his own relationships and his friends’ experiences, said that the topic is relevant to people his age.

“It’s basically about saying ‘I love you’ when you’re young, an experience most people deal with, and having a sense of humor about it,” he said.

Robinson — who was awarded last year’s UNC Selden Prize in Playwriting for his play “Where the Ocean Meets the Sky” — has also been involved in LAB! as a writer, director and actor.

Smith said his one-act play, “Lousing,” features Confederate Civil War soldiers in Virginia having lice races on their arms.

“I’m a bit of a Civil War nerd,” he said. “I wanted to think about why you would take the time to let the bugs run on your skin when you’re in a war.”

Edmund Poliks, who directs “Lousing,” said he thought the script was great to work with.

“It’s about distraction, generally messing around,” he said. “It’s not meant for you to walk out and say ‘it changed my life.’ It’s meant to be really fun.”

Poliks also said that the six-character ensemble cast will be interesting for the audience.

“Watching them is like watching a family interacting,” he said.

Mee said that the festival provides an opportunity to foster an artistic community.

“It will not only be enjoyable for the audience but is also a place where playwrights can see their scripts performed on stage.”

Contact the Arts Editor at

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