By: Mollie Lastovica
With aspirations of becoming the next Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams or Tony Kushner, Josh Hardcastle is on the fast track to a career in playwriting. His first production, “When I Grow Up,” will take stage as part of the Texas A&M University Theater Arts Student New Works Festival on Feb. 21 and 23. Hardcastle is a junior agricultural communications and journalism student with a minor in theater arts.
“’When I Grow up’ is a story of a boy who is about to graduate high school and doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life,” Hardcastle said. “This creates conflict between him and his father and in turn leads to conflict with his mother as well. It is really the story of anyone about to graduate high school.”
Hardcastle’s love for theater has been present from his youth, but it was not until his sophomore year of college that he was compelled to pursue that passion both educationally and professionally.
“Even at an early age I loved going to the theater,” Hardcastle said. “It has always excited me and I was involved in theater for all four years of high school.”
After taking a theater history class during the spring of 2012, he rediscovered the zest for performance arts that had been silenced by other commitments and stressors of college.
“I loved going to the class and I realized that if I really love theater, I might as well add the minor and pursue it,” Hardcastle said.
Subsequently, he told his Script Analysis professor that he was interested in playwriting who, in turn, informed him of the opportunity to submit a proposal for the Student New Works Festival. As a playwright, Hardcastle has used what he has learned through major-specific courses such as AGCJ 203, Media Writing I; AGCJ 303, Media Writing II and AGCJ 304, Editing to write in a way that appeases his audience.
“When writing plays, you write how people speak and when writing in journalism, you write how people read,” Hardcastle said. “Ag comm has been very beneficial on teaching me brevity in writing and how to tailor my writing to the way people speak.”
From start to finish, Hardcastle has worked alongside the entire cast and crew including freshman theater arts major and Director Marian Kansas. She speaks highly of his work and notes that she would love to direct another play written by Hardcastle.
“The best part about working with Josh is his flexibility,” Kansas said. “He has been a pleasure to work with because he allows me as the director to work through the show to create my vision, but is always there if I have questions or concerns. He’s allowed me creative freedom while still being a great resource in case I ever need help.”
As the final days pass before his debut production, Hardcastle reflects on the journey that has led to this point, noting that it has not always been easy.
“My biggest struggle was when I was writing, because I had never written something that long before. It was 72 pages before we cut it to 60 pages to be a one-hour show,” Hardcastle said. “I played an equal role in casting with the director which was difficult because we could not cast the same actors for my play and the other play that will show at the same times.”
All the while, he is excited to see the performances of “When I Grow Up” and believes that this experience has allowed him to better understand the differences between educational and professional theater.
“It has been great to be highly involved and see something that is like my baby come to life,” Hardcastle said. “If you feel that much ownership it really excites you.”
Hardcastle also notes that his play is family-friendly and relatable to most adolescents and adults.
“I was inspired to write ‘When I Grow Up,’ because I feel not knowing what one wants to do with his/her life is a common problem,” Hardcastle said. “Texas A&M is the perfect location for this play. Here, thousands of students struggle to decide what they want to do with their lives every day. I feel like ‘When I Grow Up’ is a play that will resonate with the students who watch. My play has elements of both comedy and drama in it, because I feel no one’s life is strictly filled with drama or comedy. Reality is an amalgamation of seriousness and laughter.”
“When I Grow Up” will be performed at the new Liberal Arts Building located near Scoates Hall and the Animal Industries building. The Student New Works Festival will showcase “When I Grow Up” and “Henderson” on Feb. 21 and 23. Both plays will run twice per evening at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Admission is free and tickets can be picked up at the door. Additional plays will run as a part of the festival on Feb. 20 and 22.
As for Hardcastle, “When I Grow Up” is only the beginning of what he hopes to pursue long-term.
“I already have ideas for like four plays in my head and have already started writing another one. I will participate in Student New Works Festival again next year and would like to have an internship with a literary director this summer,” Hardcastle said. “If I had the opportunity to go to playwriting school for my Master’s, I would do that. I would love to pursue something that I have reminded myself that I love.”