For many students, the idea of starting to self-promote and get to work in their field of study is a goal that comes after graduation or graduate school.
However, graduate student Braden Marks has already jumped the gun and had his recent play “The Latch” read at Velro, SF State‘s weekly student-curated reading series, where other members of the audience acted out a scene from his play. The play was also read at a theater in New York last summer. He is already working on another play as well.
Marks, who is currently getting his master’s degree in playwriting through SF State’s creative writing department, fell for theater as a child growing up in Colorado. He became a fan of the community as well as the group effort it took to put on a play.
However, Marks soon fell out of love with the idea of becoming an actor when he started college and found himself looking for different ways to express himself but still be involved with theater arts.
“As a kid and a teenager I really liked acting and so I was involved in theater,” Marks said. “And when I went into my undergrad, I went in for acting and I don’t know, I just really didn’t like acting anymore, but I still missed the theater so I ended up thinking of other ways.”
Instead, Marks put his focus toward writing plays while still studying acting.
“I think it’s important and they should get used to promoting themselves,” said Jason File, 29 and a graduate student in the Creative Writing department. “You have to do that a lot to be a writer.”
“The Latch” was also read at Theater for the New City in New York, where he knew a friend in residence. He chose that location to share his work with New York City’s prolific theater community because of that friend, although he isn’t sure if anything more will come of the actual reading.
The play was inspired by a combination of his interest in the arts as well as his real life. One of the characters is a Vietnam veteran, which is close to home for Marks.
Elements of the play were close to home for Marks. He always wanted to write about his father being a Vietnam veteran, similar to a character in the play, and “The Latch” pulls together making art and how people heal through creating art.
“‘The Latch’ is somewhat complicated and better explained by seeing the play itself,” said Marks. “But I can say that the play explores themes of trauma and loss and the way that an individual’s experience of trauma is inherited and/or shared by their family. So ‘The Latch’ in some ways refers to that mechanism that holds family together, for better or for worse.”
Marks is doing what he can to try to get more involved with the theater community in the Bay Area by doing readings and becoming more noticeable in the theater scene.
“I’m really impressed with the creative writing department because the faculty is really amazing and supportive,” Marks said. “It has a really open approach that really allows you to explore. I feel really well prepared for what I’ve done so far.”
Although Marks is still working toward his master’s degree, he feels as though the department has prepared him for the theater work he has done outside of school so far.
“He’s a very benevolent ruler when masterminding one of his readings,” said Dara Silverman, who has read roles in “The Latch.” “He’s a pleasure to work with.”
After graduation Marks plans to keep writing and sending work to other theaters, hoping that more work will come of it. He said he would also like to teach a theater-related class in the future.
“It was just a really cool place,” Marks said about why he fell in love with theatrical arts. “It’s a really cool art form with all these people coming together and getting to show off a little bit.”
Velro is a weekly reading series put on by the graduate department Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Poetry Center in the Humanities Building, room 512.