Jessica Prokop – Review staff writer. The Department of Theatre & Communication Arts presented its end-of-semester Directing Scenes in Marshall Theatre on Dec. 9, 10 and 11.
Alternate years during Fall Semester, students choose a play to cast, direct and showcase for the rest of the school as part of the Beginning Directing class. The showcase is a way for them to demonstrate what they have learned and receive a grade for the class.
The class this year is larger than in previous years with 11 students enrolled. The majority of the class comprises juniors and seniors. Because of certain circumstances, however, one sophomore is also involved.
Each scene used two to four cast members on average. Some members were cast in multiple scenes. Most are in the Beginning Acting class. However, because the department itself is small in size, auditions were held to pad the roster. Many of the actors had limited acting skills or had never acted before.
A wide variety of scenes were portrayed. These scenes included genres ranging from absurdist to comedy to drama or even melodrama. Many contained mature language and subject matter.
The scenes were each 10-20 minutes in length and ran on one of the three nights, first at 7 p.m. and then again at 10.
“On the Edge,” written by Craig Pospisil and directed by junior Steven Stewart, opened the shows on the evening of Dec. 9.
The scene depicts two angst-ridden teenagers, played by freshman Daphne Dossett and sophomore William Bailey. The two find themselves atop a skyscraper in New York when one discovers the other ready to jump.
“I chose this play because it was an easy scene for me to do since it is humorous, but [it was also] subtle,” Stewart said.
He was looking for cast members who were entertaining and capable of capturing the emotions that he wanted to show, he said.
“Daphne and Will did a great job and seemed to really enjoy it,” he said.
Other scenes showcased that evening included “The Pavillion,” written by Craig Wright and directed by junior Jamie Kitts, and “The Levee,” written by Taylor Mac Bowyer and directed by senior William DeBiccari.
The opening show of Dec. 10 was “The Author’s Voice,” written by Richard Greenburg and directed by sophomore Chloe Wandler.
“The Author’s Voice” is a dark, offbeat comedy about a mediocre man who has a gnome living in his house. The gnome is a brilliant writer, and so the man decides to steal his writing and take it to a publicist to pass it off as his own. Senior Tristan Patin, sophomore Kanon Havens and freshman Chris Forrer were cast to play the peculiar characters.
Wandler said her cast did phenomenally. Everyone memorized their lines quickly and never hesitated to offer their input.
“I wanted to do something unusual,” Wandler said.
Following “The Author’s Voice” was “Blue Surge,” written by Rebecca Gilman and directed by junior Christopher Lambert; “The Owl & the Pussycat,” written by Bill Manhoff and directed by senior Jessica Learn; and “Proof,” written by David Auburn and directed by junior Matthew Sunderland.
The final four plays were showcased Dec. 11, beginning with “Your Mother’s Butt,” written by Alan Ball and directed by junior Alessa Downing, followed by “The Clean House,” written by Sarah Ruhl and directed by senior Caitlin Henry; “The Role of Della,” written by John Wooten and directed by senior Brenna Crocker; and “Time Flies,” written by David Ives and directed by senior Jillian Haig.
The closing directing scene, “Time Flies” involves two fruit flies, played by freshman Jenaveve Linabary and sophomore David Mack, who go on a date together. While on their date, David Attenborough, a British wildlife expert played by freshman Aaron Granum, observes the two of them. During his observations, the expert reveals that the two flies only have 24 hours to live.
“I chose to do this play because it is completely absurdist, meaning it doesn’t really make sense,” Haig said.
She said that the scene plays on the concept of “living like it is your last day” and thought it would be a humorous way to demonstrate this.
Others who contributed to the production process were students in the Sound Design class, who made the sound effects that were used, as well as Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts and resident director, who helped students and assisted with technical issues.