Last year, Camille Inston sat down and wrote a script that would change the course of her Western career.

Spilling her words on the page, the first-year wrote a play for Theatre Western's Purple Shorts — a theatric festival of six 30-minute plays performed at the beginning of second semester. She submitted her play under a pseudonym and once selected for the festival, she revealed her identity and stepped into a world that she was desperately interested in but afraid to join.

Now in her second year studying English and theatre studies, Inston is the director of the Arts and Humanities Students' Council's production of Antigone, featured playwright at the Grand Theatre and an intern at the Paprika Festival in Toronto. A lot has changed since participating in Purple Shorts and she is astounded by her success.

"It's been crazy, and to think all of this spawned from Purple Shorts, kind of giving me a ground base to experiment and do something brave for the first time and so many things have come out of the confidence that I gained from that experience," Inston says.

After participating in Purple Shorts, Inston finds herself constantly connecting with creatives at Western and professionals in the industry. The festival opened up a network of people and pushed her to foster relationships with people she could work with after university.

To her, bringing her writing to life was a dream come true and validated her future in theatre. She also commends her program for connecting students with people in the London theatre community. Gearing her education and extracurriculars towards theatre has given her the confidence and abilities to pursue her passions both inside and outside the classroom.

Inston says, "Last year I came to Western to become a political science, pre-law student because that was something I felt pressured into doing … When I look at how I did a 180 in 12 months, I can't even imagine what I will be doing in two years, but writing is something I'm very, very interested in, especially with all these opportunities coming my way."

Seeing their plays come to life through Purple Shorts isn't the only reason people participate. Some see it as an opportunity to bring a dying movie script to life through a more accessible medium. This rings true for third-year film studies student and aspiring filmmaker Erik Bajzert.

An avid festival goer, Bajzert shared the same experience as Inston after he participated in the Purple Shorts festival last year. After writing and directing his play Joe Meets God, he was floored by the incredible atmosphere promoted by Theatre Western. They encouraged unlimited creativity and welcomed deep topics both Bajzert and Inston were afraid to bring up. This year's Purple Shorts coordinator, Alexandrea Gaistman, continues this direction as she invites writers to submit plays discussing contemporary social conversations like sexuality, mental health and political diversity. 

"I definitely want to see things that are going outside of the box," Gaistman begins. "I want to show the Western community that there is more to theatre than just black and white, there's also a huge grey zone. I just love plays that play on the satirical element as well as the dramatic elements."

As a drama enthusiast herself, Gaistman believes Purple Shorts is one of the best opportunities offered on Western's campus. It's a collaboration between writers, directors, actors and artists as they work together to see something come into fruition. 

This year's submissions deadline is Jan. 7 and the festival will take place Feb. 14 and 15 in The Wave.

As Gaistman prepares for this year's festival, she's excited to see what people submit after a tumultuous year in popular culture.

"In a time like right now, especially with all these different issues coming about within the political and social spectrum, I feel like it's a great opportunity for students to have a say and for them to impact society a positive way through the arts," she says.

More information on Purple Shorts can be found on Theatre Western's Facebook Page.

Culture editor for volume 109 and 110, Samah spends her time bingewatching Netflix and sipping Starbucks while critiquing music, film and social media. She's specializing in Women's Studies and minoring in Creative Writing.

Interested in what's engaging students? Contribute to the Gazette's culture section!

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