Junior theater and psychology major Kristine Hayden is involved in many aspects of theater, including both performing and stage management. However, Hayden is unique from most actresses because she also writes her own plays.
“My mom likes to say that I was overdramatic in the womb,” Hayden said. “So you could say [I was involved] since birth, but I think I started with like, school production.”
Hayden goes on to explain that she has had a longtime interest in theater and was “probably the only one that actually enjoyed” the early plays done in elementary school. She went on to take theater more seriously in high school and eventually performed with groups outside of school.
“And then I decided I loved it too much to give it up,” Hayden said. “So I became a major.”
However, Hayden did not start actually writing plays until college, when she took a playwriting class with Professor George Potter during her sophomore year.
“I've also really loved writing for a long time so I thought it would be a good way to try and combine the two by taking the class,” Hayden said. “So [it] worked out. I really like it.”
As a psychology major, a big topic Hayden likes to write about in her work is mental health.
“I think it's really an important topic that does get a lot of attention, but I think it can always get more and I think theater’s a really great way to like, bring light to a lot of mental, not even issues, but just mental health in general,” Hayden said. “And educate people and also provide hope to a lot of people.”
One example of Hayden’s writing is a one-act play called “Internal Combustion,” which she submitted to and had read at a theater department event called the New Play Festival last May. According to Hayden, any student can submit writing of any length to this event. Plays of ten minutes or one-acts are most popular. The plays are submitted blind, and a team of panelists chooses which ones are read at the event.
“And then so there's a process where you hold auditions and you actually get to have a voice and who gets cast in your piece, and like working really closely with the directors,” Hayden said. “And then it's read, like about a week later. So it's a really quick process, but it's super cool.”
Hayden found the experience of having one of her works read aloud to be a great new experience, and remarks that it’s different to have the writing read and subsequently heard by others.
“It was incredible, actually,” Hayden said. “I've always really liked writing, but having like those words that had only ever been in my head before, read out loud and heard by other people was a really cool experience.”
As a major, Hayden continues to be involved in the different aspects of the theater department. She will be stage managing the production of “Little Women” in April. For more information on Valpo’s theater productions, a full list of upcoming plays can be found on their page at valpo.edu. Tickets can be purchased online or by visiting the box office on the first floor of the VUCA.
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