Spotlight on Our Alumni: Griffin James ‘20
The University Honors and Scholars Programs recently caught up Scholars Program graduate Griffin James. James majored in English and minored in theatre and arts entrepreneurship.
By Megan Snyder
Recently, the University Honors and Scholars Programs interviewed several of its alumni and have been featuring them on the department’s social media accounts.
Griffin James is a graduate of the University Scholars Program and currently works as a website designer and content writer for a company in Durham. During his time at NC State, he majored in English with a concentration in creative writing, and minored in theatre and arts entrepreneurship. Additionally, he was involved with University Theatre, Alpha Psi Omega, and the GLBT Center.
While he was at NC State, James wrote a play entitled Heritage that won an honorable mention in the 2020 NC State Creative Artist Contest.
The NC State Creative Artist Contest celebrates original work in the forms of dance, music and theatre submitted by NC State students. A committee of Arts NC State faculty reviews the submissions and chooses winners for the Creative Artist Award and Honorable Mentions.
According to James, “Heritage is a play about family dynamic and domestic abuse. It follows Ellen, who returns home after years of being away to live with her doting father and overbearing mother. She realizes a lot has changed since she’s been gone and is forced to interrogate her relationship with her parents after learning that everything might not be as it seems. At its heart, this is a play about coming into your power as well as the complexity of familial intimacy.”
James’ idea for Heritage began as a poem he wrote in the Fall of 2017. Initially, the poem felt a bit unfinished. A year later, he wrote a short story based on the poem. Yet, it still felt incomplete. In the spring of 2019, James wrote the first draft of Heritage. For the next year, he continued to rewrite and revise it before finally submitting it to the contest. James said, “Having that time between each period was very beneficial as it allowed me to have a meditative experience with my playwriting.”
After winning the honorable mention, James felt “incredibly honored” because of the amount of time and effort that was put into writing Heritage.
Interestingly enough, the Scholars Program played an important role in the writing of the play. After having a wonderful experience taking ENG 101 with professor Anne Auten, James wanted to take another one of her courses. Thus, they took HON 296: Gender, Identity and the Birth of the ‘Modern’ Woman. In this course, Professor Auten introduced James to literature such as “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter and “Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys which later influenced his work.
“The best thing the Scholars program did for me was introducing me to professor Auten,” James said.
James plans on continuing his education and obtaining his M.F.A. in either poetry or theatre (or perhaps both!) He also aspires to teach one or both of these classes at the collegiate level, while creating meaningful art.
“My current goal is to begin writing a new script and to continue revising Heritage. I’ve been trying to focus on my writing lately as it is a way for me to continue my creative work while staying safe in the pandemic. I hope to have more developments made so that I can pitch my script to community theatres when it is safe to perform live theatre again.”