By Mackenzie Bath
“Directing scenes” is a kind of misleading title, as three of the five projects are not scenes, but segments of plays that tell a truncated version of their original wholes. Students in the Directing class chose plays that mattered to them to present as their final projects.
Usually the Fall season includes the One Act Festival, but this year the Theatre and Music departments put on “Sweeney Todd,” a production which required more attention and resources from the department, making One Acts impossible. While the “Directing Scenes” happen annually, this year there is a larger expectation for the projects because they have been integrated into the Fall season. One of the directors, Amanda Tugangui ’19, talked about dealing with these expectations.
“I once freaked out in (Professor of Theatre Štĕpán Šimek’s) office that I didn’t know how to run a rehearsal and had no idea what I was doing at all. Štĕpán shrugged and said yeah, that’s directing. I love this class and this experience,” Tugangui said.
The One Act Festival is usually directed by students who have previously taken the Directing class. This means that the directors this semester have less experience than their One Act counterparts. The class is feeling the pressure to live up to the projects people are used to seeing in the One Acts.
“The audience often doesn’t realize how much thinking, re-thinking, organizing, re-organizing, rehearsing, re-rehearsing; how much joy and how much despair the whole process involves, and how many, many hours of work it takes to put together a twenty-minute piece,” Šimek said. “The directors are the hardest working people in the show business, and no matter how collaborative, how enjoyable, how creative, and how exciting the process of directing may be, the director always feels that whole weight of the success or the lack of success of a project rests on their shoulders.”
The decision to make “Directing Scenes” part of the Fall season happened slowly. It started with the large turnout for auditions. Actors in the department did not have another production to try out for, and members of “Sweeney Todd” were just finishing the musical and wanted something new to work on. This allowed the individual projects to remain longer, as opposed to cutting the sections of the plays into shorter bits.
encourages his students to work on projects that they care about and to strive for perfection. To his mind, a project is more successful if it aims for ‘a little less than everything rather than a little more than a lot.’ This mentality was picked up by the students, who are determined to make a show worthy of the Fir Acres fall season.
With each production at 20 minutes long, they are in between the usual “Directing Scene” and One Act lengths. Each cast includes four to seven people, and the directors have recruited other students to help with design aspects of the scene. The Theatre department has contributed guidance, space, props, lighting, costumes and support. This wider reach of involvement and extra length solidify these projects as a part of the season rather than simply a class final.
Check out the “Directing Scenes” on Thursday Dec. 13 in the Fir Acres Black Box to experience the devil, a raucous game of gin, magical islands, a modern Joan of Arc and a genius little girl.