Senior directors Jack Romans (left) and Maggie Vlietstra (right, standing) bond with cast members during a rehearsal in the Driscoll Family Commons. Leading up to the performance, Romans said, “Mostly, it’s just the anticipation of seeing it all come together, because up to this point everything has just been a lot of planning and making sure everything is set in place.” (Diane Huang)
Senior directors Jack Romans (left) and Maggie Vlietstra (right, standing) bond with cast members during a rehearsal in the Driscoll Family Commons. Leading up to the performance, Romans said, “Mostly, it’s just the anticipation of seeing it all come together, because up to this point everything has just been a lot of planning and making sure everything is set in place.”

Diane Huang

Seniors step off stage to direct their own One Act Plays

February 27, 2016

Winter One Acts are a tradition at St. Paul Academy and Summit School, one drama students uphold with enthusiasm. For seniors, Winter One Acts hold special meaning. Not only are they in their final months of high school drama students, many of them have the opportunity to choose and direct on of the play performed. Seniors have shared the challenges and rewards of their directing experiences.

 

Vlietstra and Romans talk directorial vision for “The Glory of the World”

 

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Q: What is your play about?

Maggie Vlietstra: It’s about a group of people with very diverse religious and philosophical beliefs having a birthday party for the late philosopher and monk Thomas Merton. They discuss love, life, death, and religion, but as the night goes on, they become increasingly hostile towards one another. The party ends disastrously.

Q: Is it a comedy or a more serious play?

Vlietstra: It’s absurdist, so it’s hard to label it as a comedy or a drama. Overall, it’s a very funny play, but it has very serious moments as well.

Q: Why did you choose it?

Vlietstra: Jack and I saw the show over the summer, and it was unlike anything we had seen before. We really wanted a challenge, and we also wanted something that gave us a lot of room to make our own choices and make the play our own. The Glory of the World was perfect, because the script has barely any instruction on how to put the show together. We had to come up with our own concept and circumstances for the show. Also, the show is so odd, and matches my sense of humor perfectly, so I’m excited to see what the reaction to it will be.

Q: What have been some challenges you’ve faced while directing?

Vlietstra: Things have been going really smoothly, but the hardest part for me has been translating my vision for the show into a set of directions that my cast can follow. It’s easy to have a plan and a picture in your head of how you want the final product to be. It’s hard to break it down into steps so that someone else sees the same thing you see.

 

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Q: What are some things that you’ve learned about directing so far?

Jack Romans: As a director, you really need to make sure that you have an understanding of everything. Planning is important! Definitely as a director when you’re competing with a bunch of other directors for time and space and actors, you have to make sure you know what you’re doing and you have to be prepared to have things change. Also just making sure that although you are the director and you have to make sure you understand everything, I think that what’s really going to be important is making sure that we create an environment where actors feel like they can also contribute what they want to be able to do and just be like “do you guys have any ideas?” To make sure it’s a natural process between the director and the actors.

Q: What have you enjoyed most about directing?

Romans: Mostly it’s just the anticipation of seeing it all come together because up to this point, everything’s just been a lot of planning and making sure everything’s set in place.

Q: What are some challenges you’ve faced so far?

Romans: With our show, we were prepared to have 8-15 people in it, because it’s supposed to be a party with people in it. So one of the big challenges we’ve faced is working with the bare minimum amount of people that we can afford. And also you know with timing, we don’t have very much time so we have to make effective use of our rehearsals. We have minimal casting options since all of the directors this year have chosen shows that require large ensembles, which I think is really great. And again, each one is going to be a cohesive process instead of two people putting the show together. And especially with the time of the year, just juggling directing along with other schoolwork and other things like that has been a challenge. But overall I think the fact that Maggie and I have been able to talk, a lot and a lot and a lot of things things have been able to come together.

Wheaton and Tibbets say fast friendships build community that’s a “Sure Thing”

Q: What is your play about?

Riley Wheaton: It’s about two people who happen to meet in a restaurant and strike up a conversation.  This happens hundreds of times every day but most of the time the two people are pulled apart by coincidence.  Someone says the wrong thing or trips and falls and runs away and the two may never meet again.  In Sure Thing when something happens that’d pull them apart forever a bell dings and they get a redo.  It’s a show about the could have beens and the never weres.  It’s about a beautiful world of reclaimed opportunities.And maybe some discovered romance.

Q: Why did you decide to do this play?

Wheaton: My co director and I read it last year as part of our creative writing class and one of our assignments was to create a staging for it.  It stuck with me and I secretly wanted to do it, so when I asked her to core direct and she mentioned it right away before I had a chance to, I was over the moon.

Q: What has been the most difficult part about directing?

Wheaton: Cast members are to directors as students are to teachers, and like students cast members mirror whatever energy level they see in their director.  That’s the hardest part.  Giving even more energy than I demand from them, and appearing to have a plan so they’ll follow along faithfully.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part?

Wheaton: There was a moment last week when we sent them out into the hall to run some bits and I stepped out a couple minutes later to check on them and found them all chatting and laughing together.  The thought crossed my mind, these people didn’t even know one another a week and a half ago and now they’re behaving like they’ve been friends all their lives.  That building of community and, really, family is the most rewarding part for me.  I

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Wheaton: It’s exciting to be the first generation to direct one acts in the Huss Center. We’re pushing the envelope in terms of what we can do with lighting in a compressed context. Doing a show composed of really short bits requires a different acting style than anything we’ve ever done before and it’s tough to teach because it’s so out of the ordinary.  But the ability to instantly grab the audience’s attention will be useful in longer form theater in the years to come.

“Eggs”-cellent, original script entices Burr and Topp-Johnson

Q: Why did you choose to direct this play?

Cas Burr: Ingrid and I really wanted to do a funny play. We didn’t really want to do a serious one. And we kind of liked it. It was really hard to find, but it was really good.

Q: What has been one of the hardest challenges of directing?

Burr: Getting kids to memorize their lines is by far the hardest thing. It’s really easy to get them into position [on stage] once they know their lines, but it’s hard to do anything if nobody knows their lines.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of directing?

Burr: Getting to see it all come together. What’s been really cool about the play we chose, [is that] there isn’t anything online of people doing it before so it was kind of up for our own interpretation and kind of collaborating with Ingrid of what our vision is and what we want it to be and it’s turning out to be really cool.

Q: What is your play about?

Ingrid Topp-Johnson: It’s hard to say exactly what it is about… It’s a very absurd play in which a family anxiously wait for a young couple to lay eggs, and then exhaust themselves with suggestions of uses for those eggs

Q: Why did you choose this play?

Topp-Johnson: I chose it because I thought the egg laying part was pretty funny, and because I thought it would be fun to direct something without a clear plot.

Q: Were you excited to direct this year?

Topp-Johnson: Yeah I’ve been looking forward to directing one acts ever since I was a freshman

Q: What have been some of the challenges of directing?

Topp-Johnson: The biggest challenge for me has been figuring out blocking (where people move on stage). It’s especially hard because there are no scenes in this play, so everyone is on stage at once, which can make it a little chaotic.

Q: I know that some of the performers are in more than one one act, has that made coordinating rehearsals difficult?

Topp-Johnson: It’s really not as difficult as I thought it would be. I think it’s most challenging for the performers who are in two one plays since they have to memorize twice as much.

Show from radio play honors childhood for Findlay

 

Q: What are you directing?

Maren Findlay: It’s a stage adaptation of a 1951 radio show called Fibber McGee and Molly: Molly’s Checkup

Q: What is your play about?

Findlay: It’s about a couple, Fibber McGee and Molly, and Fibber is bragging about his amazing physique and muscle tone and decides Molly needs to have a checkup since she hasn’t had one is ages and can’t possibly be healthy some she doesn’t go bowling regularly like he does. so they go to the doctor and of course, fibber ends up in the ER. it’s a fast comedy where people come and ago with little comedic sketches

Q: Why did you choose this play?

Findlay: My older sister and I have lots of the radio shows on cassette tapes and we used to listen to them almost everyday and this was one of our favorite episodes and since each episode is 1/2 hour long, I realized it would be perfect and it’s like a childhood happy thing that I’ve wanted to do so I made it into a stage productions

Q: Wait, this wasn’t originally meant to be a play?

Findlay: No, it was only meant to be heard over the radio, I had to transcribe it from the cassette tape and it’s a lot of my vision for what I want to be like onstage

Q: Why did you decide to direct this year?

Findlay: It’s a super cool opportunity that I knew I would want to take advantage of even from when I was a freshman. it’s really special to actually create something onstage that’s your own. especially with this show for me, since it’s really close to my heart

Q: What have been some of the challenges of directing?

Findlay: Well, I’m directing by myself so I have no one to bounce ideas off of. it’s a lot of me thinking out loud and changing my mind and not knowing exactly what to do. in the beginning I worried about being an authority figure but I’ve gotten more comfortable with my cast and with going with the flow so I feel like I’ve got a bit more of a handle on what I’m doing. another challenge is that I’m not very organized so I’m bad at coming up with concrete schedules and lists and all those things that one would find extremely useful for directing.

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