McALLEN -- There is nothing better than hands-on experience, and that's exactly what South Texas College Production Workshop students got last week when they concluded the STC Theatre season with five performances of the interactive science fiction play "Earth Watch."

The students ran the entire production from start to finish at the college's Pecan Campus Cooper Center for Communication Arts Black Box Theatre. The acting company updated the play written by STC Instructor Jack Carroll for a 21st Century audience, held auditions, cast eight major characters, designed sets and costumes, did makeup, choreography, composed new music and lyrics, and promoted the production.

"The students did all the work from ground up and updated the work originally written by Dr. Carroll," said STC Drama Instructor and play director Joel Rodriguez. "They took the roles of playwright, designers and production crew. They have ownership of the play like a true company would. With a co-op like this, they encounter real work experience."

"Earth Watch" is the story about scientist Dr. Harry Rimer, who builds a machine for the Earth Watch competition, but an alien visitor interrupts his work halfway through the performance which leads to a chain of comical events that not only entertain, but sends a message to people of all ages.

"It was awesome, and a real good experience," said student actor and costume designer Roberto De Hoyos, who has been acting since he was seven years old. "Creating everything from nothing is the best thing. I couldn't ask for a better performance. It's very different because we get to interact with so many people and characters."

During the interactive performances, audience members were asked to suggest solutions to the world's energy crisis and assist as judges in determining the best suggestions.

"In terms of performance, they went beyond what we could expect because we only help out in class and they do the rest on their own, we only serve as supervisors," concluded Rodriguez. "We are very proud."