For mature audiences only

Published 11:15 am Friday, March 13, 2009

Shane May is a second year theater student at Riverland Community College, but “student” is only part of his theatrical resume.

The actor, writer and director has been putting pen to paper and prose to plays since he was 8 years old.

As a writer, his work often touches on the dark parts of the human experience. Whether it be brooding or ironically funny, his plays often take the audience to unfamiliar ground. In his favorite piece that he has written, “Chloroform Perfume,” he recounts a dialogue between two serial killers having “girl problems” while they go about their grim business.

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“I write about people on the fringe of society,” May said. “You write what you know.”

His inspiration is often found in music. May’s most recent production, “37 Stitches,” which recently appeared at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre on the Riverland’s Austin Campus, was inspired by a song of the same name.

Television shows such as “C.S.I” and “Prison Break” also influence his work, but for May, the creative process does not immediately result in a completed script.

“With ‘37 Stitches,’ I had been working it out in my head for a year,” he said.

Along with his writing, May is also an accomplished actor. In his acting career though, he has never appeared in something he has written. He says it seems like a bad idea.

“It’s like defending yourself in court,” he said.

He has a great respect for the actors selected to play roles in his work.

“I don’t get critical of the actors. I do get critical of the dialogue I wrote. I love the actors,” he said.

As an actor, May is a contradiction. “I hate being in front of people. I don’t like attention,” he said.

This aversion to the spotlight has not stopped him from appearing in numerous plays, including Riverland’s productions of “The Diary of Anne Frank, “Of Mice and Men” and “Antigone.”

“Everyone says in acting, you have to have an objective; mine is to get off stage,” he said.

May came to Riverland after seeing a television advertisement about the program, and he decided to pursue it.

“The staff has been amazing,” he said. “I can’t imagine myself being anywhere else.”

Prior to attending Riverland he had worked at the Rochester Civic Theatre from 2001 to 2004.

He is currently in his second year at Riverland, and will be attending for one more. After Riverland, he would like to further his education at another university. After school he would like to join a theater company and write. May has also considered trying his hand at journalism.

“I’m hoping to write and get published, even if no one buys it, just to have my name on the book,” May said.

For those thinking of starting a life as a playwright, May has advice from someone who has been there.

“Get used to being hungry,” he said. “It’s a labor of love. ”