New Kids are on the block, but new works are on the way — the New Works Project will be showcasing the first fruits of their labor Friday at 7:30 p.m. The event is being held at the UNC Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art in Room 102.
The New Works Project is a group aiming to unite student artistic efforts across all disciplines. This Friday will be the first real performance the group is hosting.
Adam Swez, an artistic director for the group, said it was formed to fill an unmet need on UNC’s campus.
“There isn’t a space on campus for student writers to have their work developed like in the professional world,” Swez said. “We want to create this process not just for young writers but also for young actors and directors with the theater, a process not currently reflected on campus.”
The performance Friday will feature works by two student writers — a poem by Jonah Howell and a play by Alaina Bainbridge.
On what stood out about the two works, Swez said both writers had a lot of natural talent, but their works weren’t polished yet and still had room to grow, which is something the New Works Project looks for in the works they select.
“We wanted to be able to work with the piece and build a relationship with them,” Swez said. “Both Jonah and Alaina expressed interest and openness to rewriting and working with us and taking feedback and going through the process with us.”
Speaking with Howell about his poem and the New Works Project further showed why Howell’s work was selected.
“I did stage acting before I started writing, so generally whenever I’m writing poems, I’m not thinking about them being read but rather being performed in my mind,” Howell said. “And the process is more getting in the characters and acting them out. All my poems tend to be highly visual, and while they can get across through words, they seem to be better served on film or stage.”
Howell continued to say he hadn’t had much interaction with the New Works Project but liked what he had seen from them so far.
“Chris said, 'We don’t wanna do anything in the middle, we want it to either be a colossal success or colossal failure,'" Howell said. "I love that attitude towards performance in this environment with a lot of student works. It gives a lot of room for experimentation.”
Alaina Bainbridge, the writer of the play being performed, said the process of working with the New Works Project was relieving.
"Then to have people come in and breathe life into it is a really a beautiful thing," Bainbridge said. "I felt really exhausted after writing the play, but the beautiful thing about theater, which I hadn’t experienced before, is somebody else takes the work, and it's not lonely anymore.”
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