Students bring plays to life

Lane Community College’s inaugural Playwright’s Showcase 2015 gives student playwrights the chance to see their nascent works come to life onstage while also gaining real-world expertise in arts management. Through this innovative program, students not only nurture creative projects, but they learn firsthand how plays are produced and promoted.

This year’s showcase, which runs Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 12-15, features five plays, each written and directed by students or former students.

“This is a totally student-run activity,” says lead theater faculty Brian Haimbach, who credits LCC’s Student Production Association, or SPA, for the effort. “They wrote, directed, produced and acted it, all by themselves,” he adds.

Haimbach, who previously oversaw an International Play Festival in South Carolina and directed an academic program there, joined the Lane faculty in 2012, stepping into a college with markedly lowering enrollment.

But shrinking class sizes have streamlined the theater program, Haimbach says. Now that Acting II, III and IV are combined into one section, for example, “the ones with less experience learn from the ones with more, and there’s more mentorship,” Haimbach says. “And the SPA board is bigger than it’s ever been.”

As a mentor, Haimbach speaks proudly of what his students have accomplished, and he encourages high school students to come see what the program has to offer. And as an actor and director who remains active in the professional theater community, he also encourages his students to walk that line where creativity and diligence meet.

“For me, theater exists between what you’re trying to do and failure,” Haimbach says.

When it comes to education, experiences in the creative and administrative aspects of the arts are invaluable, whether someone pursues that path after college or not.

“They’re developing communication skills, collaboration skills,” Haimbach says. “The playwright’s showcase gives students a chance to learn their craft.”

LCC’s Playwright’s Showcase 2015 runs 7 pm Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 12-14, and 2 pm Sunday, Feb. 15, at the Blue Door Theatre; $5-10. Each performance will feature a short discussion after the play to provide feedback to the playwrights and producers.