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Writer's Debut

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 00:01

David Cohen

Senior English major Emily Sturrock prepares for the opening of her play titled "Henderson," which is set to debut at the Student New Works Festival in February.


Emily Sturrock is not your average student. Majoring in both theater arts and creative writing, reporting for Lifestyles at The Battalion, and writing her own play production that will be performed on campus in February, she takes busy and creativity to another level.


Sturrock, a junior, is a woman of many talents. With interests that range from playwriting to musical theater, one could easily call her well rounded, artsy and a little bit of a hipster.


Sturrock said out of her many passions, writing is her favorite, with a love that was born in the early days of standardized testing and sack lunches.


“My first shining writing moment was fourth grade when I got a four on the writing portion TAKS test,” Sturrock said. “Ever since then, it’s been a long path to where I am now.”


Even her co-workers notice her flair for writing and storytelling. Sturrock, along with other select students, is showcasing a play in the upcoming Student New Works Festival, an event held in February for student plays and theater.


Justin Fullerton, senior international studies major and fellow participant in the festival, described Sturrock’s writing as intelligent, creative and a little dark.


 “She comes up with very good ideas and is a strong teammate,” he said.


Sturrock said writing wasn’t always her plan, and deciding on a career path was a difficult decision. With so many interests, one major didn’t seem like enough. She arrived at her double major in theatre arts and creative writing after changing her major three times and considering a transfer, Now Sturrock hopes to someday make a career out of writing, with a particular interest in playwriting.


“I simply write to entertain myself,” Sturrock said. “If someone else is entertained as well, then that’s even better. One day, if someone would give me money to do it, well that would be pretty motivating.”


Sturrock’s stage debut will be during the Student New Works Festival in February. Her play, which she wrote and will co-direct, is the story of Ed Skins and his mother, Gladys. The two settle down in Henderson, Texas, with the hopes of leading a quiet life after Gladys’s husband, Howard, leaves them in search of the “Sabine Thing” — a mythical creature much like Bigfoot.


However, quiet life seems to escape the family as small town gossip and crazy Hendersonians catch up with them. The play, aptly titledHenderson, is a dark comedy about the secrets of a small town and its “unbalanced inhabitants.” Through the outlandish voices of Hendersonians, the audience pieces together the true reason behind Howard Skins’ disappearance.


“I was inspired to write Henderson after many nights of substituting insane amounts of coffee for sleep during the first round of tests last semester,” Sturrock said. “I was in a class and we had to write short stories. This idea of ridiculous and eccentric people living in a small town came to me, so I wrote it into a short story and then a play.”


Amy Guerin, instructional assistant professor and faculty adviser for the piece, called the play funny and outrageous, with a hint of truth mixed in.


“The characters seem like small-town Texas stereotypes on the surface,” Guerin said., “But as you dive deeper into the play, you understand more and more about their complexities.”


Guerin said she likes the authenticity and more surprising aspects of the play as well, describing it as a “refreshing” piece that will leave audiences pleasantly surprised.


“I am so privileged to have Emily as a student,” Guerin said. “She is a gifted writer and performer. Her possibilities are endless.”


Autum Casey, instructional assistant professor for the Department of Performance Studies and an adviser for the Student New Works Festival, said Henderson is well done and bold. She said she expects great things of the young writer and her soon-to-be-staged play.


“It’s a great opportunity,” Casey said. “I think the play’s really great and ambitious. It will be really fun to do workshops and have it come together.”


The fourth annual Student New Works Festival is Feb. 20 though 23. The festival will include multiple student plays and the collaborative efforts of A&M faculty.

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