Braden Holland, a first-year student at SMU, is majoring in Theatre Studies with a minor in Arts Management. He has always had a soft spot for acting, but he believes that writing is truly the most rewarding part of theatre. Holland has recently finalized his latest play “Only A Minute,” and it is scheduled to premiere this summer in various theaters in California. This play has been a long time in the making and he is happy to see his ideas finally come to fruition.
When talking about how he began writing, Holland says, “There was this album that I always listened to as a kid. It was called “Picaresque” by The Decemberists. It was just a bunch of separate stories… and I loved the idea of storytelling and bringing all these things that just come out of your mind to life. I wanted to start telling some stories.”
And so he did. He first began acting and loving theatre when he was in fourth grade. His first role was playing a tree in the “Jungle Book: Kids.”
“I was center-stage – all the way in the back – and I held my arms up, and I swayed every once in a while,” Holland said. “I was obsessed with it. I decided that ‘I am the tree!’”
After this experience, he also worked on memorizing a speech from Patrick Henry.
“I did that monologue in fifth grade and I worked for hours on [it]…and it didn’t pay off. It was so bad,” Holland said. “But it was ok. I thought, ‘Oooh, I love working on this. Thanks Patrick Henry.’”
Holland has been involved in theatre ever since. He first got the idea for the concept of “Only A Minute” in eighth grade and has been meditating on the idea over the past few years. He started picking the idea back up his senior year of high school – and has kept the ball rolling ever since.
The play is set in a near distant future where a new technology has allowed people to replace their memories with something else. The first recipient of this procedure decides to try and change the memory of his childhood. It addresses the ups and downs of his relationship with his mom through this process as his memories begin to change.
Holland’s inspiration stems from his experiences as he was growing up.
“I had a pretty ‘blah’ childhood with my mom. I dealt with things like alcoholism, neglect and all that junk,” Holland explained. “But I also had these great, incredible moments with my mom. It has always been a struggle in my head.”
So, he asked himself: ‘If I had the opportunity to get rid of all of this, would I’?”
This question is what really prompted the formulation of the play. Holland says he still doesn’t know the answer to it – and the play does not give the answer either. He just wants to ask it and make people think.
This is the first play Holland has written that will be produced. Over the years, he has written numerous plays, but he finally decided that this one was a story he wanted to share. In order to do so, he sent the play to a connection he had from the Old Globe theatre in San Diego. That connection reviewed it and then passed it on to his colleagues.
Holland did not imagine that the feedback would be so positive. He sent the script in the hopes of receiving some critique and was delighted by the glowing responses and people’s desire to share his story.
Although nothing is set in stone, Intercity Arts, an organization that shares the theatre arts with impoverished people in Los Angeles, is planning to put on the show along with a troop in San Diego.
“Only A Minute” is scheduled to premiere in L.A. over the summer. It will then be presented by SMU Student Theatre on campus in the Fall of 2020.
Holland says it is a weird feeling to see his show finally coming together now that people are going to be able to see it live.
“It’s very nerve-wracking because it’s your little baby and now people are going to be judging it and looking at it,” Holland remarked. “But, I know I’m not the only one who has had experiences like [the ones mentioned in the play] and so I hope that at least a few people see it and can relate to it and feel it.”
His mindset toward writing is this: “If it is the biggest flop and it sucks, you learn from it.” He says that if it does really well and you weren’t expecting it, you learn what connected with people. In addition, he thinks the most rewarding part is seeing the work come to fruition.
“When it works, it works and you always learn no matter what,” he said.
Holland is currently working on moving forward with his next project and is planning to finish a musical within the next year. This is just the beginning for Holland – and his writing career.