New Works Festival back for round two

Anna Lawson

Performing arts students at WKU will have the opportunity to create and perform something entirely new in the second New Works Festival.

The festival will consist of a weekend of student-run shows. Students will act, choreograph, produce and direct original performances.

Kirsten Kellersberger is the student producer for the New Works Festival. She had the same role in 2014 that she did in the first festival.

“The festival is an opportunity for students to showcase their work in a mentored environment,” she said. “There are so many opportunities through the festival that students may have not had.”

Kellersberger’s role includes communicating with professors and students, publicizing the festival and overseeing the festival as a whole.

Kellersberger has been in love with acting since she was six. Her first acting role was in “Daisy-Head Mayzie” by Dr. Seuss.

“I’ve known ever since,” she said.

Brooke Eden is working alongside Kellersberger as the assistant student producer. She will also be directing a play on top of her assisting duties.

“As a kid I always loved music and always loved theater,” she said. “I never thought to put them together.”

When Eden first saw “The Lion King,” she fell in love with musical theater.

There are many opportunities within the festival for students to acquire valuable experiences in a nurturing environment.

“We focus on collaboration, and students can have fun and decide if this is a path they want to pursue,” Kellersberger said.

Eden said the festival provides a platform for students to try new things and possibly find a new passion.

“This could open up a whole new life path,” she said.

Bailey Vincent is one of those students. She will be co-directing her first show for the second New Works Festival. In the first New Works Festival, she was a performer.

“It is so wonderful as a writer or director to finally see what their piece looks like translated from paper to stage,” she said. “It’s really amazing to sit down in the audience and see and hear what your friends have created on the stage.”

Eden said directing and being assistant student producer can be a bit tricky and is definitely a time commitment, but she remains passionate about her work.

“I get to do what I love,” she said. “It is the only thing I can see myself doing. I am preparing myself for a career in theater, and you need to know how to balance things.”

She said her friends in the department help her continue down the chaotic path.

“They understand what I’m going through,” she said.

Vincent agrees that the theater community is a very strong family.

“Talking about the theater community is my favorite thing to do,” she said. “I think it is growing more with every production we do. It is really important for people to experience live theater.”

Kellersberger has to keep up with the “absolutely crazy” world of theater as well.

“I do a lot of behind the scenes work,” she said. “I check my email about 20 times a day and make sure everything’s running smoothly. It is a lot of checking in and then fixing things. I make sure to be available.”

However, all the work is worth it. She loves being able to see a student’s vision come to life on stage.

“My part is a lot of the preplanning; I’m not directly involved in rehearsal,” she said. “I get to see ideas flourish and see what everyone is capable of when they put their heads together. There is outstanding talent on this campus.”

The New Works Festival also has advisers to help students.

“It is great to have faculty stand behind us but also push us beyond our comfort zones,” said Eden.

Vincent said the festival teaches students the real process of live theater.

“It allows us to have hands-on experience in dealing with this type of theater,” she said. “For those of us going into this professionally, it is giving us an opportunity that many people don’t get to have in a college setting.”

Vincent said she loves performances like those in the New Works Festival because they are live.

“There is something about being on stage with another person in real time and being completely in tune and in the moment with them,” she said. “Theater and performing arts is such a different and wonderful art form in the fact that it is done live. We get one take.”

The festival will feature many different types of live performances.

“There is something for everyone,” Kellersberger said. “If something doesn’t appeal to you, just wait 10 minutes.”

Performance dates are April 14-19. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday in the Gordon Wilson Hall Lab Theatre.