With The White House, The Supreme Court, and the Lincoln Memorial just around the corner, Washington, D.C. is a must-see for aspiring politicians, would-be government officials, and history buffs; however, it also has more than enough cause to attract thespians like Teundras Oaks, a senior theater major enrolled at Georgia Southern University.
Oaks was invited by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) to travel to Washington D.C. and participate as one of four students in their dramaturgical competition from April 13-18, 2015.
Oaks’s journey to Washington, D.C. originated last fall when she worked as the dramaturg for the Theater & Performance production of “Race; a play.” As a dramaturg, Oaks acted as the literary manager and lead researcher for the production, enabling her to work closely with the director on creating the world of the play, as well as ensuring that a level of authenticity and accuracy was present throughout the production.
While most students’ familiarity with the legal process is limited to Law & Order reruns, Oaks’s knowledge extends to being thoroughly aware of the various legal terms normally used, the process of arrest and booking to pleading before a judge, the intricacies of legal representation, and the history of crimes where race placed a role in the perception of guilt or innocence.
Her work as a dramaturg led to her nomination and victory in the regional competition during February, which then led to a series of interviews that concluded with her selection to attend KCACTF and compete at the national level.
“I didn’t win the overall prize which was an internship in the summer, but I guess they really liked me and they wanted to see more of me, so they’re letting me come back in July to work at the Hanson New playwright festival,” Oaks said.
Despite not winning the national dramaturg competition, Oaks was able to experience the unique process of brainstorming with her peers on adapting the novel, “Blindness” by José Saramago, into a play at KCACTF.
“We thought of a vision to adapt the book into a stage play. We worked on the concept, and although it might take years for it to actually materialize, it was really cool to contribute as a part of the developmental process,” Oaks said.
Although Oaks has recently found success within the performing arts, she had very little experience with theater until she attended GSU.
“I just always wanted to act, but I don’t why I never done it. I did it once in middle school. I froze up on stage. It was one of the worst experiences in my life, so I stayed away for a while, but I secretly still wanted to do it. Once I got to college, I just went ahead and did it. In my first semester, I auditioned for a play and ended up having a substantial role in it,” Oaks said. “Within the last year is when I made the commitment that no matter what I do, as long as I’m somewhat involved in the theater world, I’ll be happy.”
Oaks adventures doesn’t end at KCACTF. She recently had an interview with the organization, Artist Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP), and was given a scholarship to teach classes emphasizing theater in India this upcoming September.
“The English translation for the school is called Haven of Peace, so children are going to be on their fall break from school. It’s going to be an outlet for them to use theater as a way to stay out of trouble, because it’s going to be in a very rural area in South India. I’ll be teaching improve classes and playwriting classes, whatever they need me to do I’ll be on it,” Oaks said.