Lewiston police are seen in “A New Life,” which has the Ware Street Inn as part of its backdrop.

LEWISTON – Paul Kuritz, a professor of theater at Bates College, will premiere his short film “A New Life” Saturday, March 15. The screenings are open to the public at no cost.

Kuritz, who has taught at Bates since 1978, produced and directed the film and adapted his screenplay from a short story by Mary Ward Brown.

The story of a young widow whose grief drives her to seek comfort from a group of Christians, “A New Life” lent itself readily to the screen, Kuritz said. It’s short, with a small number of characters and settings and it’s pretty cinematic in its imagery. There’s a lot of dialogue already and vivid but brief character descriptions,” he explained.

Author of four well-regarded books on acting and theatrical history, Kuritz in recent years has studied filmmaking at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport. “A New Life” served to test his abilities as part of the process of developing a new Bates course on acting and directing for the camera.

“More people watch films and make films than watch or make theater,” he said. “More students are interested in film. So I think I should take my knowledge and skill in directing for theater and see how it can be shifted over to film.”

Volunteers were crucial to the production of “A New Life” because Kuritz had virtually no budget. The situation was ideal, he said, for “people who like making movies and wanted to network with a place that will be making movies in the future.”

Bates alumni and student filmmakers, as well as college staff, formed the production team. Jason Tsichlis, a Bates junior from Winchester, Mass., provided original music. Maggie McCally, a senior from Westport, Conn., and Madeline McLean, a junior from Evergreen, Colo., played major roles.

Members of the Lewiston Police Department and actors from elsewhere in central Maine also performed in the piece. The historic Ware Street Inn was among familiar locations around Lewiston that provided the backdrop for Brown’s poignant story.

Brown, born in 1917, is a lifelong Alabaman. Her spare and understated language creates a surprising eloquence in her explorations of the culture clash between the old and new South. “A New Life” was published in the 1986 collection “Tongues of Flame,” which won the 1987 PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award.

The rural Southern setting “translates pretty well to parts of Maine,” Kuritz said. “I was looking for a story that could be set realistically in Maine.”

Kuritz teaches stage acting and directing at Bates and directs one of the theater department’s two annual productions. A Lewiston resident, he is the author of “The Fiery Serpent;” 2007; “Fundamental Acting: A Practical Guide,” 1997; “The Making of Theatre History,” 1987; and “Playing: An Introduction to Acting,” 1982.

The screenings will be at 3 and 4:30 p.m. in room 105 of Bates’ Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St. Attendees can meet the film’s cast, crew and director during a coffee reception between the 32-minute showings. For more information, call 786-6257.

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