UNH Junior's Play Chosen as One of the Best in the Country

By Erika Mantz
UNH News Bureau

February 15, 2001

DURHAM, N.H. -- University of New Hampshire junior Lindsay Joy had the 10-minute play she wrote for a class selected as one of the eight best in the country in the Northeast regional competition of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival last month.

Life, Love and a 7-11 was performed before an audience of hundreds in the festivals regional competition held at UNH the last weekend in January. In its 32nd year, the festival promotes theater in college and universities and celebrates the best work. The competition is not limited to undergraduates, so Joy competed against graduate students from most of the Ivy League colleges in the country, as well as the best conservatories. More than 18,000 students from 600 academic institutions participate each year.

This is a tremendous accomplishment, says David Kaye, the UNH assistant theater professor who taught Joys class. To have any play produced is extremely difficult, but to have a play rise to these ranks says a great deal.

Kaye, a playwright himself, attributes a lot of Joys success to her theater training and ability to observe human nature and human behavior. Her talent is shes able to bring that to the stage as an actor, and now as a playwright. I believe weve never had a playwright selected for the region let alone go on to the Kennedy Center.

In April, Joy will travel to Washington, D.C. for the national competition.

Ive always loved writing, but I dont think I ever let myself believe I was any good at it, she says. I think writing almost bares more of you. A part of me would rather be nude on stage with no lines than to speak my own words.

Acting since she was a junior high student in Hudson, Joy said she believes the root of good acting is to reveal as much truth and honesty. But, the rejection that goes along with acting is easily explained. Its easy to justify with superficial reasons, like you just werent right for the part because your hair is the wrong color. With your words, it works or doesnt work because of what you wrote. Theres nothing else to blame.

In addition to being a full-time student and an active member of the theater community, Joy works full-time as a waitress and bartender at The Library Restaurant in Portsmouth. She returned to UNH last semester after two years off for personal reasons. It was during this time she started writing.

I auditioned and got into Boston University, but I couldnt afford it, she says. My freshman year I felt I was better than UNH, but Ive come to realize theres a freedom here that I wouldnt have elsewhere. I would have had to decide one or the other: acting or playwriting.

Kaye believes Joys award is a great testament to the virtues of liberal arts.

If Lindsay was a student at the Boston Conservatory or NYU or even Boston University, shed be an actor. She would be isolated to that and get tremendous classes, but she wouldnt be pushed to develop all of the other seeds of her abilities and talents. I think, in her own way, she had an advantage.

Joy agrees.

Ill be sitting in a weather class hearing what happens in an equinox and Ill think what a great idea for a play, or file the information away because maybe one day one of my characters will be a scientist and hell need to know this, she says. Im here (at UNH) to experiment and explore, to try new things. I have the freedom to fail, and the forum to try things like playwriting.

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