Created in 2017 by theater professor Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, New Works Lab is a workshop production program that gives students the unique opportunity to see their works come to life. It brings together student directors, playwrights, designers, stage managers, publicists and actors to put on original plays written by UCSB students. In the fall, students submit their scripts, after which a committee of students and faculty choose their top five or six scripts to which to give developmental productions. Directors, stage managers, designers and actors are then chosen in the winter and the shows are put into production in the spring. Every two weeks, each show performs their play in front the New Works Lab class and receives feedback from other students and faculty mentors.
In a recent interview, Cowhig spoke more about the class and its growth since its conception.
“I never considered that I wanted to be a director until I realized that you had to put yourself in the position of an actor,” Theater and English student Katherine Hamilton admitted in a recent interview. She discusses what influenced her to change her focus from acting to directing, and how that choice—and her subsequent directing of “I Didn’t Want a Mastodon,” a student-produced, one-act comedy—has influenced her in return.
“All voices were hushed and eyes were drawn toward the stage at UC Santa Barbara’s Studio Theater. The lights dimmed and black silhouette-like dolls walked out onto the stage. I looked on in awe at the undergraduate UCSB dance majors performing in a student-choreographed modern dance recital. I was then a sophomore but butterflies struck my stomach, reminding me of the nervousness I had felt years earlier before a dance competition. Then I realized I was no longer the one who was looking out from the stage into the black sea of an audience, but rather the one spectating a university dance student performance.”
Here, Katie Orr recalls the jarring moment in a UCSB Humanities course in which she realized that dancing on a stage was still calling to her years after she had stopped her practice.
In a series of video interviews, Humanities and Fine Arts professors share thoughts on the merits of their fields and their most rewarding experiences as teachers and researchers.
Japanese artist Aisuke Kondo recently spoke about his Diaspora Memoria exhibition from his Matter and Memory series, which explores the idea of reconstructing memories of self and history.
“In doing research about your own history, you come to see how the larger societal history has developed,” Kondo said Thursday in a talk hosted by UC Santa Barbara’s Theater and Dance department. Kondo’s work explores the history of his great-grandfather who immigrated to the United States and was then forced to stay at the Topaz internment camp in Millard County, Utah.
Blake Thompson, a third-year student at UC Santa Barbara who is pursuing a double major in Theater and Communication, devoted the last weeks of summer and first weeks of fall preparing for her role in the pared down Hamlet, which ran for 19 performances over a two week period.
In a recent interview, Thompson talked about the field of acting and how the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts helps an aspiring actress reach her potential.
Monique Meunier, a ballet dancer and UC Santa Barbara assistant professor, felt a need to respond to the polarizing, divisive presidential election of 2016, believing that national solidarity is more important than ever.
So she choreographed and directed a Fine Arts and Performing Arts collaborative performance titled Still We Rise, for UCSB students to come together to support those whose futures are imperiled by proposed changes to DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was begun during the Obama presidency.
The performance premiered last winter to 120 people over two nights and concluded with ten dancers coming together at center stage to recite poet Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”
Verenice Zuniga, who graduated in 2017 with an emphasis in acting , has received an Indy Award from Santa Barbara’s The Independant newspaper, for her lead performance last May in the play Lydia by Octavio Solis. Zuniga says her BFA in Theater provided a rigorous program that prepared her the real world.