Morgan Starr

The UT New Theatre is an annual opportunity for select student playwrights to have their work directed, acted and produced by fellow UT students. From Wednesday-Sunday, four plays written by third-year Master’s of Fine Arts playwrights will be produced. Each play will be performed twice during the festival and will be held in the Lab Theatre.

The plays at UTNT range anywhere from stage readings to full productions. According to Morgan Starr, a theatre and dance senior who will be acting in “Karlstad” on Wednesday and Saturday, the full production allows writers to expand and edit their work in an extended rehearsal schedule,    

“The playwrights are able to pick if they want a shorter or longer rehearsal process,” Starr said. “Because writers who want the longer rehearsal process are generally wanting to really dive into the work and looking at making a lot of changes and edits to the play.”    

According to MFA playwright Patrick Shaw, who wrote “Karlstad,” UTNT provides the opportunity for him and his fellow playwrights to show some of their best work.    

“This is our chance to see one of our favorite pieces that we worked on the stage and to share it with the community,” Shaw said.    

UTNT is a good way for the writers to display what they’ve learned at UT and work with fellow students, according to Nicole Oglesby,  English and theatre and dance junior. Oglesby will act in “Hold Me Well,” which debuts Thursday.    

“It’s a really great opportunity for the third-years to show off the skills that they learned over the course of their graduate program and work with MFA directors and designers and undergraduate actors,” Oglesby said.

Shaw said it has been a collaborative process because the theatre students working on different productions use the same resources.    

“The thing that I really love about [UTNT] is that we all work together,” Shaw said. “We have the same design team, it’s all on the same set basically, so it feels like a big project that all of us are working on together.”

According to MFA playwright Brian Kettler, whose play, “Lyla School,” debuts Saturday, the playwrights are involved in the rehearsals and work closely with directors and actors. This has allowed the writers to rewrite scenes up to a week before the performance.    

“I’ve been revising the play during rehearsals and trying out new scenes,” Kettler said. “[The actors] have been giving me feedback and are really open to try brand new scenes on the spot, so really working with the actors and the director has really helped me understand the play and the revisions I want to make.”    

The actors and writers said UTNT has been a great opportunity within the University, and they have been able to refine their skills while working on a new play.

“I think that it is so important and amazing that UT puts on this festival every year for so many different people with different interests to come together and collaborate,” Starr said. “It not only help the writers develop their plays, but it also helps everyone in the process to further themselves in their own craft.”