Student playwrights learn from producing own plays

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    By BRINTON WILKINS

    Using the department of theatre and media arts as a training ground, two students are testing their playwright wings on BYU’s stages.

    Carlos Macia and Nathan Christensen have written dramatically different shows, but producing their plays at BYU gives them both valuable experience.

    Macia, 26, a senior from Elx, Spain, majoring in theater education, has been involved in theater for 12 years.

    The Mask Club produced an abridged version of his first full-length play, “Minotaur,” this term.

    Macia based his play on the Greek legend of the Minotaur, he said.

    “The main message I want to get through is that one person can make a difference,” he said.

    “Minotaur” was written with a classical, lyrical feeling, he said.

    Christensen, 23, a junior from Bartlesville, Okla., majoring in playwriting, upped the lyrical ante and wrote a musical, “Here in the Heartland.”

    “It actually started out as an adaptation of ‘Gulliver’s Travels,’ but it’s really nothing like ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ anymore,” Christensen said.

    “It’s kind of like a cross between ‘Music Man’ and ‘Death of a Salesman.'”

    “Here in the Heartland” is currently going through a workshop process before being presented as a dramatic reading this weekend.

    Despite the thematic and stylistic differences, being able to produce their plays at BYU gives the playwrights important feedback.

    “I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve enjoyed discovering things,” Macia said. “By creating these characters and creating this plot I think the message has changed.”

    Christensen echoed Macia’s feelings.

    Producing what have otherwise been just words on a page has helped the script develop, Christensen said.

    “In the process we’ve cut parts of scenes and lines of dialogues and a couple of songs,” he said.

    “This is my first big script,” Christensen said. “I’m still in the learning phase, so there could be some big flaws … I really want to learn from it.”

    Macia, who also directed “Minotaur,” said that the actors discovered things in the script that he had never seen.

    “I’ve given complete freedom to the actors to change the words to fit the reality of the language,” he said.

    Joy Gardner, 21, a senior from Gainesville, Fla., majoring in music dance theater, said producing “Here in the Heartland” has benefited both the actors and the playwright.

    “I would give it an ‘A’ or a ‘B+’,” she said.

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