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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Theatre and Dance

MFA Actors Present Solo Shows Dec. 2-4 at CPE

Second-year MFA in Acting candidates will present original solo works at the Center for Performance Experiment.

The UofSC Department of Theatre and Dance

Light Through a Pinhole:
MFA Actor Solo Shows

Original Solo Works
Written and Performed by Graduate Actors

December 2-4, 2015

Center for Performance Experiment
718 Devine St.
(Between Huger and Gadsden Streets, near The Thirsty Fellow restaurant)

Performances Presented in Two Groupings (of 4 performances each):

December 2
Group A: 6:30pm
Group B: 8:30pm

December 3
Group B: 6:30pm
Group A: 8:30pm

December 4
Marathon of all performances beginning at 6:30pm

Free Admission

Professor Robyn Hunt, director for the showcase, says the solo show project is a crucial part of the MFA in Acting curriculum.

“It asks that the actor work alone and not in a collective,” she says.  “That he or she be playwright, then designer, editor, director, and, finally, actor, rehearsing and performing alone. It asks that the actor be not only an originator, not only an interpreter.”

Second-year MFA student Carin Bendas says the project started months ago with prompts given by Professor Hunt to stimulate the writing process.

“Sometimes it would be Robyn reading us an article.  Other times, we’d look at a piece of art, or listen to songs.  Whatever the prompt, we’d have to write down whatever that piece brought to mind.  Whatever it made you think of, just start writing.  It was really good for us to get into the practice of writing and not editing anything — just going free flow and saving it, so if we want to work on it later, we can edit it then.”

The inventive works, which are capped at no longer than seventeen minutes, run the gamut from performance art pieces to short narratives.  Bendas says her script, entitled April 26th, consists of scenes that take place on the day April 26th during a range of years (spanning 1st through 20th Centuries).   “A lot of it was inspired by love letters between my grandparents during World War II,” she says of the piece, which is partially based on a poem discovered among her grandfather's belongings after his passing.

Bendas says the process has been illuminating.  “It’s reminded me how much I love writing,” she says.  “I’d forgotten because it’s been so long since I’ve written without any stipulations, such as writing papers I have to defend or through which I have to prove something.” 

She adds, “We’ve spent a lot of time talking about different theatrical devices, and it’s been really helpful to realize how many options are available to us.  It doesn’t have to be fourteen minutes of me just standing and talking to the audience.”

The eight students have had an extra help over the last few weeks, as professional playwright Dipika Guha has been at the University overseeing the first full staging of her play, Herculine and Lola, at the CPE.  Guha spent time in class with the students to give them pointers.

“It’s been amazing to have her here and get to discuss the process with her,” says Bendas.  “We’ve talked about how we sometimes have to say goodbye to things we’ve written because they don’t fit, and how important it is to share the work early to make it less precious.  You can develop a sense of ownership over it and every moment you’ve spent pouring out your creativity, but there has to come a time when you become more objective about the work.”

“It’s exhilarating work,” says Professor Hunt, “because these artists are fully independent, pure inventors, and the final arbiters of what will be seen.” 

For more information on Light Through a Pinhole or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at