Thompson Hall

Thompson Hall stands on the corner of Jensen Road and Dunn Avenue on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Thompson Hall houses University Theatre and premieres productions and musical ensembles throughout the academic year.

The Creative Artist Award, given to NC State students in music, dance or theatre, recognizes students who create original works that get to be workshopped or performed the following year. Many students submit their work, but only one truly exceptional piece from each art program wins. 

For the theatre program, last year’s Creative Artist Award winner was Aysia Slade, a fourth-year studying psychology and political science, for her one-act play, “Static,” which debuts on stage next month on March 25.

According to Slade, “Static” is a three-character play about the tensions that can arise between friends, in addition to how different people deal with grief and pain. With this play, Slade said she wanted to focus on mental health and, more specifically, depression.

“I wanted to do a project that would combine my major in psychology with my love of theatre,” Slade said. “That was what brought me to it: combining my two passions.”

Slade said she had been writing “Static” throughout her four years in college, which goes to show the difficult yet thrilling experience of putting pen to paper and completing a full work.

Even given the difficulty, the entire work remained Slade’s own. The words, from the first draft to the final draft, were all written by her, with feedback from others to help guide her.

According to Mia Self, assistant director of acting and directing at University Theatre, the emotional vulnerability and realness of the play is largely why “Static” was chosen as the winner. 

“It was a remarkably complex and sensitive play in terms of how it deals with how we tell ourselves stories about the difficult things that happen to us,” Self said.

Several factors are scored when choosing a Creative Artist Award winner. Each play submitted was read for clarity of story, innovation in concept and style, among other things. In the end, “Static” won out, said Self.

“The big thing that made ‘Static’ stand out was the accessibility to students,” Self said. “This is literally a play about being a college student and wrestling with the ideas that you’re wrestling with in college.”

According to Self, there is something to be said about performing student writing as opposed to always going with a preexisting piece. Student-written plays shed the spotlight on the things that matter to them, as well as their peers. She also expressed the value of students seeing that another student their age is accomplishing a feat like that, it shows that they can do it, too, whether that be playwriting or their own unique thing.

As one would expect, performing “Static” live and with an audience this year presents challenges. Luckily, the play itself only has three characters, so maintaining safety on stage is very feasible. In accordance with the governor’s regulations, the audience itself is limited to 10 people, but the performance will be live-streamed, available for all who wish to see it, Self said.

No matter the circumstances, plays performed live will always be important. 

“There is something about the two-dimensional aspect of television and film which, no matter how transportive it is, reminds us that we’re not in that,” Self said. “But seeing a three-dimensional body on stage in space reminds us that we are in it.”

Students interested in watching “Static” may sign up here.