BYU showcases six new student-written plays at annual Microburst Theatre Festival

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BYU Theatre and Media Arts started off the 2022-2023 season with their first showcase, Microburst Theatre, from Oct. 6-8 at the West Campus Studio Theatre.

Directed by Kristie Post Wallace and written by BYU student playwrights, Microburst Theatre is a play festival showcasing six ten-minute student-written plays. Performed and workshopped by student actors and dramaturges, theatre professor Shelley Graham said these new plays cover deep truths and themes that inspire thoughtful conversations.

The program consisted of “Save Me a Seat” by Charlotte Westover, “Birthday Besties” by Thomas Petrucka, “La Posadera” by Darci Ramirez, “Back Log” by Andrew-Elijah Schindler, “Justice Is Served” by Avery Dall-Hilton, and “Burnt Stuffing” by Bethany Teames. After the performances, there was a post show discussion where the audience could ask the production team questions and share their thoughts.

Graham said theatre makers can change the world in positive ways and BYU is a place where new playwrights can be nurtured to produce these types of plays.

Sydney Olson, acting major and audience member, said she was surprised at how funny some of the plays were. There were also some sensitive topics covered like self-harm and aspects of married love, but she said one of the things that makes BYU TMA so unique is how they are able to put on plays that are so specific and personal to audiences and students at BYU.

“I really loved how personal each of the plays was to the specific playwright and you can just tell that it was something that they felt really deeply about,” Olson said.

Jessie Pew, a dramaturge in the production team, acted as the sounding board and editor for writers in “La Posadera” and “Back Log” to bounce their ideas off of. She said she helped make changes to try to create the most efficient and impactful play.

Because they are very different plays, Pew said she had to learn the best way to communicate to be the best help to each play. She also said the most challenging part for her was watching her playwrights doubt themselves and the work they were doing.

Pew said she was touched when she read their drafts and believed they should be confident in the work they were producing.

Microburst Theater also allows the playwrights the opportunity to showcase their work in front of an audience at the university level. Actor Connor Hyde said this festival is an important outlet for students to get out their work.

“It’s really cool to sort of see how students in BYU sort of push the boundaries on discussions that we don’t typically have here that I think we need to have more of,” Hyde said.

Students can get their BYU Theatre season tickets at this website, calling (801) 422-2981 or at the BYU ticket office at the Harris Fine Arts Center or Marriott Center.

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