“The most difficult thing for a student playwright is that theater is a medium that is meant to be read aloud, and so playwrights can write and read it in their heads, but until they hear it out loud they're never hearing their play as it's intended to be,” Yancey said. “I think providing opportunities to hear their work and see other people read their work is a really valuable tool in development, and something that's not always accessible.”
This Friday’s show will feature two scripts, each with very different content.
UNC junior Matthew Keith said he got the idea for his script while listening to music from the '70s and '80s and was intrigued by the inexplicable amount of saxophone solos featured in many of the songs. His script, entitled “Studio Session,” focuses around the ghost of a long-forgotten saxophone player that haunts a modern-day recording studio.
“When I was thinking of ideas of short things I could write that I thought were kind of funny, I was like, 'Wouldn't it be weird if there was one singular person responsible for all of those saxophone solos and then when he died that's the reason they all disappeared?’” Keith said.
Keith began creating scripts after trying out fiction writing and decided that playwriting was more his speed.
“I'm really a visual person, but still wanted to write the stories myself, so this gave me a medium that allowed for both the writing aspect that I really loved, but also the ability to just see the writing right in front of me, acted out by people,” Keith said.
Keith believes that LAB! provides an encouraging environment for this medium and allows burgeoning playwrights to explore both what interests them as artists and what their audiences find interesting.
“You can write all you want, but if you're writing plays and they're never performed, there will be a missing sense of development in your work until you really start to put on that work, hear it through other people's voices, other people's interpretations, and then also get feedback from audiences on their interpretations of your work,” Keith said.
UNC junior LJ Enloe’s script “Twitch” is a creative glance at bird-watching. The script is an examination of the relationship between professionals in ornithology and those who simply enjoy bird-watching as a hobby, and the complexities that exist within that dynamic.
Enloe said he got the idea a few years ago after discovering that April 8 is Draw a Picture of a Bird Day. He began to annually ask people he knew to draw pictures of birds, which he then collected and posted on social media.
“I just kind of did it for no reason at the beginning and then I started to think about it a lot, and look at them, and started to really enjoy birds,” Enloe said.
Enloe began translating this interest into the idea for a script, which he has been working on for a year. He said that writing can be an isolating experience and that LAB! provides opportunities for artists to get out of their head and present to their peers.
“When it's more of a personal project it’s difficult to find time for it, but it's nice that LAB! offers this opportunity to showcase your work and get outside thoughts on it, to kind of get it out into the world, and at the very least just to motivate you to expand,” Enloe said.
It’s this kind of public motivation that is driving student playwrights to seek out a place to showcase their work, and Yancey said theater companies at UNC have begun to support student-written work more and more. She hopes this upward trend will continue in years to come.
“There's some really incredible young talent that we have on our very campus,” Yancey said. “It's work that deserves to be produced, in my opinion, just as much as any published play.”