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Students gain experience through directing

Posted on 12.11.2013

Student Directed Productions’ last show was Dec. 7, the last night student directors could watch their masterpieces play out on stage.

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(l-r) Junior Kyle Mishler and senior Will Schnabel perform a scene in the play “Moonlight and Magnolias.”

SDPs occur once a year alternating semesters. Three to four students who have completed the Directing I course are chosen to direct any production of their choice.
Potential directors have to fill out applications, turn in the scripts of the plays they would like to direct and explain their concepts and ideas to the professors who interview them.
This year, juniors Elise Campagna,  Daryl Hollonquest, India Van Camp and senior Ross Percell were chosen as directors.
Every show is a compilation of four short plays. Campagna’s choice was “None of the Above,” by Jenny Lyn Bader, and was the first play performed. Hollonquest’s choice, “Intermission,” by Daniel Meltzer, was second. Van Camp’s adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado” was third. Percell’s choice, “Moonlight and Magnolias,” by Ron Hutchinson, was last.
The students’ responsibilities included more than just choosing the plays. They were in charge of casting, call backs, setting up rehearsal schedules, blocking and guiding their designers and actors. While the tasks were daunting, the students  said they gained something out of the experience.
“Having the responsibility of being in charge is scary,” Van Camp said. “But it’s so amazing. It’s like your vision [that] people get to help you build, and you get to see something get created, and it’s amazing to be a part of something that’s bigger than yourself.”
Percell said that the chance to direct gave him hands-on experience with what happens in all facets of putting a show together, such as working with designers, costumes, blocking and lighting.
“I got to see what designers are thinking,” he said. “I got to see what was important to a director.  I think most importantly during tech weekend, I figured out what is annoying. As an actor, I will be a little bit more respectful of people’s efforts.”
Campagna said directing is beneficial in learning the thought processes of others involved in different departments.
“Being on this side [of theatre] really allows you to see what kind of people you like to work with,” she said. “[It] allows you to be that kind of person when you are doing other jobs.”
Hollonquest had directed in the past for SDPs, but he said every chance to direct helps him get better as a director and in the end something special is created.
“The best part about it for me, personally, is the end of the directing process, which is when the show opens,” he said. “It reminds me a lot of if you have a kid at birth and you’re raising it, and opening night is like when your kid goes off to kindergarten for the first time … You helped raise that thing, and now it’s able to go and operate on its own. That’s my favorite part: knowing when it’s ready to take on the world.”


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