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Students dive into the challenge of directing

Directing student Lisa Koller gives notes during rehearsal.  Photo by Ryan Hagerman
Directing student Lisa Koller gives notes during rehearsal. Photo by Ryan Hagerman

On Dec. 8, a dozen students will display their work as directors at the Gezon Laboratory theater room. The students are a part of a directing class taught by Professor Stephanie Sandberg.

Students have been preparing their scenes for the entire semester. They have analyzed their plays, found props to use, found furniture and also held auditions for actors. Professor Sandberg explained the process of auditions the directors held.

“We had auditions in kind of a cattle call and then each director did callbacks separately,” Sandberg said. “Then we collaborated together on choosing the best actors for each scene.”

“It was a bit stressful, but lots of fun,” she added.

The directors spent the first few weeks on analyzing and interpreting their plays. Sandberg explained that analyzing and directing these works is vital to learning how to direct.

“Whenever you teach a directing class, it’s important to choose really challenging material,” Sandberg said. “I’m hoping that students learn about the art of interpretation and push themselves to understand dramatic texts at a deeper level.”

This semester, Professor Sandberg decided to have students direct plays written by prominent female playwrights.

“Many of the scenes are taken from Arlene Hutton’s plays,” Sandberg said. “We are also doing a couple of scenes from plays by Yasmina Reza, Caryl Churchill, and Sarah Ruhl.”

Sandberg believes the plays present a unique challenge to the students.

“The world’s current crop of female playwrights are stellar writers and thinkers, so exposing students to their work and asking them to take on the challenge of directing [these plays] is quite exciting,” Sandberg said.

Junior Sandra Flores is one of the students taking on Sandberg’s challenge. She and other students have been rehearsing their scenes for a couple of weeks now. Flores discussed some of the challenges and fun of directing in rehearsals.

“When I direct, I always feel there’s something I’m doing wrong, but at the same time, the fact that I’m directing feels good,” Flores explained. “The process can sometimes be uncomfortable on the outside, but ultimately pleasant.”

Sandra Flores is directing a scene from the play “The Clean House,” by Sarah Ruhl. Flores said the play is a “magical realism story of laughter, love, forgiveness and death.”

Flores has been working with her actors for several hours every week. She said that the collaboration has been an interesting process for her.

“I see directing as an opportunity the actors give me to create through [them] and with them,” she explained. “It’s awesome to be able to collaborate and make something new, as well as it’s scary to expose your ideas and hand them over to others.”

The directors will show their scenes in a showcase this Saturday at 5 p.m. Professor Sandberg said she is excited for her students.

“I’m proud to see the students in my class doing so well at it!” she said. “[They give] me great hope for the future of the art forms!”

About the Author

Ryan Hagerman

Ryan Hagerman is a Chimes guest writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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