By Parker Thomas Staff Writer
The theater performance majors of Susquehanna will be premiering one act plays that they have each directed as part of the Student Directing Showcase on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Degenstein Theater.
As part of their curriculum, theater performance majors are required to take directing, a course only available to them as seniors, following their completion of the rest of the department requirements.
In the beginning of the class, each student selected a 10-minute, one act play from a series of anthologies and then decided together as a class when to schedule auditions for their one acts.
Before auditions took place, students were taught by Douglas Powers, associate professor of theater, on what to look for in the actors they would audition. Then they were required to develop a vision on what direction they wanted to take in the production and casting of the play. Auditions were open to all students on campus and were held earlier in the fall.
After the auditions, the student directors discussed amongst themselves who they wanted for what position, and they cast the members of each play.
Following casting, the student directors were taught the fundamentals of directing, the use of lighting and set pieces to further create a story on stage and also how to speak to their actors using technical terms they could understand, since some of them were non-theater majors.
During these lectures, students could also ask questions of Powers about their production and the struggles they may have been facing.
“It is very much a give and take class,” senior Hunter Brady said. “He is really guiding us through the process of being a director.”
In total, thirteen seniors will be presenting one act plays over the course of Dec. 12 and Dec. 13. The acts will be divided across the two nights as to prevent two extremely long performances that would otherwise last up to three hours each. Each performance should last roughly an hour.
Brady and senior Fatima Farris spoke about their acts, the difficulties they faced and the knowledge they gained from their productions.
Brady described her act, “Story of My Life,” as “scandalous.” The play involves two cousins, Gena, played by sophomore Amber Legge, and Pat, played by first-year Nolan Nightingale, who run into each other at a first communion party, realize that they are related, and try to come to terms with the fact that the two of them had been seeing each other without knowing they are related.
Both characters are polar opposites of the other and must decide whether or not they wish to stay with each other.
Brady said the main challenge in directing this play was overcoming the uncomfortable topic of incest. She stated that through directing the portrayal of the humor and romance between the two actors she has been pushing to overcome this.
Brady has also faced problems in teaching acting methods to the students, especially since one of them is not a theater major.
Additionally, Brady admits that she has absorbed the information taught to her differently, making it difficult for her to teach back the same way she was taught it.
Still, Brady said that she has been able to get through this thanks to the patience and flexibility of her actors.
Farris, who has previously done directing, also expressed a great deal of appreciation for her actors. Farris’ play, “Guys,” is about two men in a fast food restaurant who are speaking vulgarly about women and how to woo a certain patron of the restaurant.
Farris has added a twist to her own production by casting two women as the characters of the play.
“I wanted to find the irony in something that is seemingly shallow by having these girls be these guys saying vulgar things about a woman,” Farris said. “I think it is really funny.”
Farris had her actors get heavily involved in their roles by having them study their male friends sitting and walking patterns and having one of them alter their voice to sound deeper. Both actors will also be wearing men’s clothing in the production.
Farris also stated that she enjoyed her actors’ ability to cope with her directing style, which she described as “direct.” To soften her directness, Farris said that she develops her critiques on the two actors in the form of complimentary statements, where she identifies both the problem and something that the actors did extremely well on.
“I encourage people to go see [the one acts], simply because it is time away from studying and the hustle of stress from the finals,” Brady said. “Art is a great way to escape the stress of the world, and I think people forget that.”
“I think one thing with theater that gets so often swept under the rug is that it is one thing to go look at a gallery of paintings which is so relaxing, but when you get into a theater and your peers are on stage who put so much work into it, you are often in shock of what you see because you don’t expect it,” Brady continued.