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Arts & Culture

Get a Taste of ‘A Case of Salt’

Gaven Bell (biological sciences '23) talks about her Creative Artist Award-winning play, A Case of Salt.

Decorative logo for A Case of Salt

By: Caleb White, DASA Intern

Gaven Bell (biological sciences ’23) is the winner of Arts NC State’s 2021 Creative Artist Award for her play, A Case of Salt. Her play was workshopped during the fall 2021 semester and will be presented with production support in the Kennedy-McIlwee Studio Theatre March of 2022. Tickets are now on sale here.

In November 2021, we spoke with her about the play and her inspiration as well as what it meant to receive the Creative Artist Award:

What is the play about?

Simply put, A Case of Salt is a play about finding identity and connection, specifically in relation to disability. It follows a group of high school students as they rehearse a play they wrote for an upcoming theatre festival. The scenes take place in both the real world and the world of the play, and through this the characters learn about themselves and each other. 

What was your inspiration for this play? What was the process for coming up with the play?

The initial scene that the rest of A Case of Salt is based around came to me one night in high school when I couldn’t sleep. I just laid awake in bed for hours watching this scene come to life and revising it in my head. I eventually gave up on sleep and got up to write it all down. That scene bounced around in the back of my head for a few years, but it wasn’t until last year that I found the right story to build around it. 

The play as it exists now looks very different from that original scene. I was inspired to write this specific story because there is a lack of strong disability representation in theatre- for both characters and actors. Growing up, the only person I knew with a disability like mine was my sister, and we very rarely saw our experiences reflected in the media we were consuming. And often when I did see disabled characters, they were there to be inspirational or to make other characters look good. They weren’t whole people. There are so many interesting and important stories to tell involving people with disabilities, and I wanted to use my art to address that. Having a play within a play allows me to show both the abilities and experiences of disabled actors and the characters they portray. It has been so important to me throughout this process to get feedback from others in the disability community because I want this story to accurately and meaningfully reflect our experiences.  

Gaven Bell
Gaven Bell

What did it mean to win the Creative Artist Award?

It meant a lot for me to win the Creative Artist Award because it was validation not only of my abilities as a playwright but also that people like me and the rest of the disability community belong on stage. It is a huge honor that my play was selected and I am so grateful for this opportunity to have my work produced and to grow as a playwright. 

Are you involved in University Theatre or any other arts programs/organizations?

I am very involved in University Theatre. Fall of my freshman year (2019) I played Emma in Fefu and Her Friends and then basically never left. That spring, I was an assistant stage manager for Student Shorts, a collection of short plays that unfortunately was canceled due to COVID, and last year I stage-managed Static, the 2020 Creative Artist Award play by Aysia Slade. I was also involved in the many projects and opportunities that University Theatre provided last year, including Devised 2020 which I helped write and acted in. I am also currently the secretary of the Psi Kappa Cast of Alpha Psi Omega, NC State’s chapter of the national theater honor society. 

What is your class year/major?

I am in the class of 2023, majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology and minors in Science Communication and Theatre.