Capstone projects showcase directors’ talents

Students in the Play Directing class will demonstrate the culmination of their skills by producing 12 scenes and incorporating the lessons learned on and off stage on Dec. 6, 7 and 8.

Each of the three nights will feature four different selections, created by each of the 12 students in the class, including seniors Katie Dolph, Malia Harris, Ben Karlin, Caleb Kearns and Dawn Moore; and juniors Matt Cantelon, Trish Castaneda-Gonzales, Wyatt Lee, Zane Johnston, Tess Malone, Kate Peterson and Afton Pilkington.

The theater majors have complete control over the selection of their scenes, as well as the casting, staging and direction. The result is a mix ranging from comedy to drama, covering a variety of issues and themes.

For many, it is their first attempt at directing, and it is often a reflection of the director’s own personality.

Peterson chose a scene she said describes her perfectly.

In “Romantic Comedy,” by Bernard Slade, two writers meet when they become professional partners and eventually fall in love, mirroring the scenarios they created on paper in real life.
“It’s wonderfully random, nerdy and adorable,” she said.

Peterson, who has worked as a director at a children’s theater camp in the past, said she appreciated the experience and collaboration that came with working with knowledgeable actors.

“It’s really cool to have college actors who know what they’re doing,” she said.
Even before the actors received their parts, the directors said they learned significant lessons from being on the other side of the audition process.

Peterson said she gained insight into her past audition experiences, and has come to understand the reasons behind some comments she had received.

Similarly, Castaneda-Gonzales took on a comedy, but without the happily-ever-after ending.
“Pancakes,” by Peter Morris, is about a dispute between two roommates that quickly escalates and produces unexpected results.

“I wanted to go for something (humorous) since comedy is something that’s a lot harder to pull off,” she said. “Dark humor appeals to me.”

As a result of her hard work, Castaneda-Gonzales said directing has caused her to think about theater from a leadership perspective.

“I’m used to just taking direction,” she said.

Having worked with both demanding and laid-back directors, Castaneda-Gonzales has concentrated on keeping her style between these two while working with her own actors.
“It’s always really funny to hear from a director ‘play around with things,’” she said. “It made me realize why directors say this. I found myself saying it (too).”

Dolph also found that taking on the role of director helped with her own acting.
“As an actress, watching other people go through the process and being able to watch someone get it, it helps me be a better actress,” she said.

Choosing scenes from “Stop Kiss,” by Diana Son, what she describes as a simple modern drama, Dolph played to her strengths as well as her interests.

“Stop Kiss” deals with the aftermath of two women who fall in love, and the violence that ensues from other community members.

Though the subject is controversial, Dolph said she appreciated the play’s emphasis on identity and self-perception versus perception of others.

“It’s interesting to think of it not as a play about a hate crime, but a play of complications of having a relationship like that,” she said. “It’s a love story. It’s a play about people.”

Dolph credits her scene’s success to the fact that the auditions were open to all Linfield students. She was able to work with actresses who are open minded, she said.

Dolph said she wants to continue pursuing acting after graduation, and said her skills have improved after looking at the art from different perspectives.

“It’s a culmination of all the theater classes I’ve taken,” she said.

All the directors agreed they have enjoyed the complete freedom the class has given them in creating their scenes.

“You never know what you’re going to get,” Peterson said. “(They’re) totally student done; it’s a really good way to get into the arts culture of the school.”

Directing scenes will be performed Dec. 6, 7 and 8 in Marshall Theatre at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. each night. Admission is free.

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