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The way Matthew Robert Carter sees it, he’s already wasted way too much time offstage.
The UNC-Wilmington freshman didn’t get bit by the acting bug until last year but he’s been in the spotlight ever since.
It didn’t take long before he was trying his hand at play writing, too.
The young talent will soon watch his words come to life–just moments after he gets done starring in another piece.
Carter’s play, “The Birthday Witch,” co-written with fellow freshman Mickey Johnson, is one of two opening this weekend as part of “The Write Stuff,” UNCW’s STAGE Company’s first-ever double feature entirely written, directed and produced by students. Carter also has the lead role in the second of the two plays, “YOLO,” written by Hannah Gilles.
“The Write Stuff” premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday at UNCW’s Warwick Ballroom. It continues at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. The plays will run again March 20-23 at Browncoat Pub and Theatre. Shows at Warwick Ballroom are free. At Browncoat Theatre, admission is $10 for the public and $5 for students.
“I wrote this play because I wanted the actors to have fun with the characters…because if the actors have fun, the audience will have fun,” Carter said. “I’ve always been imagining since I was a kid. I thought I would start writing some things down.”
He said watching what director Olivia Arokiasamy and her cast have done with his script has been an amazing, if surprising, experience.
“I love what all of them are doing. It is not necessarily what I had intended but I didn’t want to direct it because I wanted to see what other people would read into it and think of it,” Carter noted.
“The Birthday Witch” is a zany tale about a powerful witch and her mortal son, who attempts to throw her a birthday dinner. Things get a little crazy when all the guests–fellow witches–show up to try to take his mother down.
“It’s very caricature…It kind of speaks for itself,” Arokiasamy said.
Directing, however, has been a little less cut and dry for the UNCW junior.
“It’s been hectic. I didn’t realize how many things a director has to do, especially with more limited resources. But it has been a lot of fun and, I hate to say it because it is really cliche, it has been really rewarding,” Arokiasamy said.
And luckily she has had a partner through it all.
When Arokiasamy, an officer in STAGE Company, announced she was directing “The Birthday Witch,” fellow officer Zeb Mims had just picked “YOLO” as his directorial debut.
Turns out, both plays were fairly short so the pair–who is also a couple–decided to combine the shows into one night.
Mims and Arokiasamy didn’t know at the time how fitting the combination would be.
While the plays have very distinct plots, they seem to carry very similar themes. “YOLO” about is a marine biology major who has lost everything–including his scholarship and his girlfriend–when he opens a fortune cookie with strange instructions. As he follows the instructions, he is led on what Mims calls an “urban adventure of self discovery.”
“Both plays, from a literary perspective, are very funny. A lot of the language is the same,” Mim said. “And both plays are really about a guy overcoming his shortcomings with women. It’s been a kind of fortuitous serendipity.”
For Carter, it’s more like a double milestone–a lead role and a production of his original work–that is only made even more meaningful by the fact that he is sharing it with his peers.
“In some ways, it has been almost less intimidating to work with other students. You’re more likely to voice your opinion and reviews. But at the same time, we respect the directors as we would any other director,” he said. “There is just a lot more camaraderie here.”
More information about “The Write Stuff” can be found on The Scene, Port City Daily’s free community events calendar.
Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.