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Two students in the Department of Theatre, Pablo Hernandez Basulto and Anna Jekel, were selected to receive Northeastern University’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors Awards, which support students seeking to conduct original, innovative projects of their own creation. The awards offer financial and academic support to students who are carrying out both early and advanced independent research and creative endeavors under the mentorship of Northeastern faculty members.

Pablo Hernandez Basulto aims to continue and advance his exploration into drug-related violence in Mexico – its origins, consequences, and future. He will create a new theatre piece that speaks to this complex topic by applying different discoveries he made at his co-op at the American Repertory Theater, which taught him about the importance of community, shared experiences, and engagement.

“The issue of drug-related violence in Mexico is a very personal one to me because it is my home country. Being from Mexico and having the privilege of coming to school in the United States, I have an objective, but at the same time narrow, perspective and I look forward to finding ways to bring to light voices from both sides of the border, using theater as a way of communicating,” explained Pablo. “Theatre is my way of engaging with a difficult topic that deserves better understanding and exploration.”

In addition to actively engaging audience members in the topic of drug-related violence in Mexico, the project is an opportunity to familiarize and involve audiences about the similarities that Mexico and the United States share. Pablo plans to collaborate with Robert Duffly, Publications & Artistic Programs Associate at the American Repertory Theater, to find the new form that this story will take and to discover its new shape.

Anna Jekel is starting her own blog about Boston’s theatre scene called Offstage Boston – a new approach to theatre critique that will help the Boston theatre scene move forward and stay relevant.

“The blog’s approach would be innovative because the critiques of the shows would be in the form of conversations between me and another person who had seen the show, rather than a formal review,” said Anna. “In addition, at the end of the blog post, I would pose questions to readers, inviting them to discuss the play in the comments section. There would also be additional posts such as interviews with directors or other theatre artists.”

Since Boston struggles to attract younger audiences to the theatre, one objective of Anna’s blog is to rejuvenate the Boston theatre scene and make it more accessible. To do so, her blog would approach theatre in a way that appeals to younger people by incorporating social media and ensuring that the conversations about the plays deal with very current issues.

Another objective of Offstage Boston is to bring attention to the work of fringe theatre companies, which are small, low-budget companies that often cannot afford publicity or advertising. Anna plans to offer fringe companies and larger companies equal time on her blog, in an effort to promote work that is driving theatre forward and to ensure that excellent art does not go unseen.

Congratulations to Pablo and Anna!