A Match Made in Stony Brook: Gareth Burghes, '12, and Semester by the Sea

If you tried to describe the perfect candidate for the inaugural Creative Arts Semester by the Sea program at Stony Brook Southampton, you would likely come up with a person bearing a very strong resemblance to Gareth Burghes, Stony Brook University class of 2012.

The inaugural Creative Arts Semester by the Sea is a  project-based 10-week term that will allow students interested in filmmaking or playwriting to work with MFA in Theatre and Film professors at the Southampton campus in the creation of a film or a play that will be completed and produced by the end of the term. Another Semester by the Sea program starting in the fall will be offered in Marine Sciences.

Enter Gareth Burghes, a double major at SBU in, what else? Why, Marine Sciences and Theatre Arts, of course.

In a recent interview, Gareth said that he decided to take on a double major because he wants to go into science communication, with an eye to perhaps securing a job at National Geographic, or working for the Science or Discovery channels.

He grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and it was his interest in Marine Science that led him to Stony Brook, because of its reputation for excellence in the field and he saw it as a great place to study. It didn’t hurt that he also had family across Long Island Sound in Connecticut.

His interest in Theatre Arts, he said, first developed in high school, although he had been more sports oriented, which didn't leave time for much of anything else. As a freshman at Stony Brook, he became involved in a theatre club on campus, Stony Brook Pocket Theatre, and directed shows in the fall and in the spring. By the time he had reached his senior year, he was running the club, as the president and artistic director.

As for his interest in film, Gareth said that when he took film as an undergraduate, he quickly realized it was more about criticism and theory, and not about the art and craft of making films. His decision to take on a second major in Theatre Arts was based on his realization that the discipline delved into more hands-on skills.

After graduating from Stony Brook in May, he said he got an email from the Semester by the Sea program, and he assumed it was coming from the Marine Sciences division. Instead, it was from the Creative Arts side. He was immediately interested, and contacted  William Burford, a professor and producer at Stony Brook Southampton, who is putting together the inaugural Creative Arts Semester by the Sea program in Southampton for the fall of 2012.

"I learned that it was one semester—or, really , a little less,” Gareth said, during which I would be able to put together a film and finish a project while being taught by great people.” What would he like to have as the subject of his first film? Marine Science.

"With a finished project," Gareth said, "I would have something to show to people that could help me raise money to make it into a bigger project, or to get the go-ahead to make a different film. And, regardless of whether the film I make at Southampton turns into something else, or enables me to do something else, I will have the experience of completing a film project, which would be invaluable for the kind of work I'd like to do."

He has been out to the Southampton campus as an undergrad, for some of his Marine Science classes, and said he thinks it is "the perfect location. It's ideal for the creation of an interdisciplinary project combining art and science."

The inaugural Creative Arts Semester by the Sea looks to be the perfect program for Gareth Burghes. And Gareth looks to be the perfect student for this exciting new program. Guess you could say it's a match made in . . . possibly the only place a match like this could be made: Stony Brook University.

For information about the Creative Arts Semester by the Sea, visit www.stonybrook.edu/sea-arts , or call Director of the program Bill Burford at 631-632-5101. Who knows, it might be a perfect fit for you, too.