Curtains open for advanced class

Casey Tharp

For the Review

On opening night of the Advanced Directing Scenes, Marshall Theater was thick with the talent of student directors and actors.

Junior Matt Cantelon directed a scene from “Rabbit Hole,” portraying a woman grieving her dead son. He said he became involved in directing because he enjoyed his first directing class.

Cantelon said one of the challenges of being a student director was learning to direct peers and friends, but said he enjoyed working with both the script and the actors.

“It’s really neat when you can ask people questions and lead the actors to places where they can discover the characters,” Cantelon said.

He said one of the difficulties of directing the scene was time management. Many of the actors were involved in “Bleacher Bums,” so rehearsals had to start just a week before performance, he said.

“These students aren’t doing it for credit, so they have other classes and activities,” Cantelon said. ”You have to be respectful of their time.”

Sophomore Jillian Haig played the lead role of the mother in Cantelon’s scene. She said this was one of her first dramatic roles and is glad the scene gave her the opportunity to expand her talent, though it was a challenge to develop such an emotional character in only two weeks.

“It’s really cool working with student directors,” Haig said. “There is less pressure in some ways, more in others. It’s a really collaborative work.”

She said it is a valuable experience for the future.

“It’s good to learn to work with peers and being able to switch from friends to a professional
relationship,” Haig said.

Junior Afton Pilkington directed a flashback-based scene from “Anne of a Thousand Days,” a play chronicling the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. She said she took the advanced directing course because she thought it would be useful in teaching theater.

Pilkington said one of the challenges was filling in the history for a complex play. She said she gave each of her actors a 10-page packet on the life of his or
her character.

“Working with new actors is a whole new challenge, especially with such complicated characters,” Pilkington said. “What you see is only half of them.”

Seeing the whole production come together was one of the best parts besides working with the actors themselves, she said.

“I have a huge cast, but I love it,” Pilkington said. “I love the discoveries, when I can lead the actors with questions until they see what I want them to see.”

Freshman Bree Adams played the young Anne Boleyn in Pilkington’s scene.

“I just went and tried out,” she said. “I didn’t really expect anything; I just wanted to have fun.”

She said getting inside this highly complex character’s head was a true challenge.

“I have to ask myself, ‘what am I feeling here, and why am I feeling it?’”
Adams said.

 She said memorizing lines and then having to act them out like it was the first time  was  difficult for her.

Also involved in “Bleacher Bums,” Adams said learning the role was stressful but a good experience. In Haig’s words, it’s a great way to get your acting fix without a commitment.

“A lot of people try out who don’t have enough time to be in a mainstage production,” Cantelon said. “It’s a great way for them to be involved.”

Pilkington said she hopes more non-theater majors will audition.

“I hope people really enjoy these scenes and understand it’s a learning experience,” Pilkington said.

The show runs May 20-23 at 7:30 p.m.




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