Senior theatre students direct shows
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Costumes ready and stage set, the small cast and crew prepare to perform a show.
As a part of Theatre IV, seniors are required to dab into the arts of directing a scene from a show of their choosing. The kicker: they have only one week to put it together.
“I was super pumped being able to direct my peers,” senior Graham McCain said. “I was really excited about it because I’ve always been on the acting side of it. I’ve never been in the directing part and to have that power is kind of terrifying but it’s also a challenge and I like it.”
Theatre IV seniors get to use Theatre III students as their cast and crew.
“It’s very intimidating at first but luckily I was given a lot more respect than I was expecting,” senior Kelsey Smith said. “The first day is kind of difficult but they know that you need their cooperation.”
McCain chose a scene from the play “Gruesome Playground Injuries” by Rajiv Joseph. The eccentric plot involves two characters and although it isn’t romantic, the story itself is a love story.
“I’ve read scripts for awhile and I just chose one that I had really fallen in love with that I could do within a week,” McCain said. “And just, while reading the script, I pictured it in my mind and what I’m just trying to do now is bring what I thought was happening in my head to the stage.”
Smith chose to adapt a scene from the play “Metamorphosis”, a script that involves six different Greek mythologies. The particular scene she chose is based on the tragic story of Orpheus and Eurydice.
“We were lucky because Morse did pull some shows for us to pick from,” Smith said. “You could do your own show that you found yourself but he pulled some that just had great scenes in it so luckily that wasn’t too difficult for me. But cutting down the script and pulling one scene from that show takes awhile.”
The point of the project is to train students in other areas besides just acting and technical work. It’s a form of leadership as they take the helm of a miniature version of a student production.
“They learn, aside from artistic ability, to multitask and no matter what they do, the [experience] to multitask will benefit them,” theatre director Lance Morse said.
A bright side of this assignment is that students get to work solely with other students.
“I’ve been on both ends of giving and receiving instructions so I know the way that is successful to grasp those instructions without people being like, upset,” McCain said.
A complete crew consists of a stage manager, prop, costume, sound and light technicians. The cast numbers vary depending on what scenes are chosen.
“Stage managers in general are a director’s right-hand man—they are the helping tool. They are the support; they are what keep us sane half of the time,” McCain said. “I’ve got a good crew. I’ve got actors, and I trust them completely.”
To each their own—seniors can take any direction they please when it comes to production.
“Normally I have a small vision of what I do want for the overall show,” Smith said. “But sometimes, especially if you have a cast with a person who has a special thing, you definitely want to throw it in there. So you start with a vision and slowly build it up from that basis that you lay for yourself.”
For McCain, taking words and bringing them to life means becoming a trusting person.
“I’m usually the guy who plans ahead of time, but working with actors who are not me and don’t make the same choices as me, is helping me make more in the moment and say ‘you know what? I trust you as an actor, I trust you as a technician, and I trust you to make choices that are going to look good, that are going to sound good, that are going to be good,” McCain said. “’And if I don’t like it I’ll change it, but I’m giving you reign.’”
As to how directing will affect their futures, both McCain and Smith feel it gives them a sense of leadership and independence.
“I like that directing a scene will help me in my future because it gives me a different outlook on things which I know that I personally try to see as a problem or a situation from different perspectives,” McCain said. “And by being a director, I think it opens my eyes even more.”