The objective is simple: “How do you tell a clear story?”
The “2018 Director’s Project”ran this past weekend in the Jim Wise Theater, and it was not an event to be missed.
“The Director’s Project”is a series of nine short plays, each ten minutes long, that are directed, performed, and staged by students. Each of the directors, ranging from sophomores to super seniors, are part of the Theater 213 course Directing, and this show is a project for the class.
Watching the plays felt nothing like sitting through a normal class presentation, however; the production was very well done. The set and sound design were beautiful, and allowed the shows to flow together nicely.
Every play was entertaining or intriguing in its own way. The directors were free to choose any play and were not restricted to a theme. However, with plays about break ups, mysterious boxes, mental illness, and wanting to murder our family members, each one seemed to explore our connections with other people, and what it means to be human.
Humor was a common theme throughout most of them. From the very beginning, the audience was laughing, and by the end of act two, my sides hurt.
That’s not to say there were not serious plays; a particularly touching play about dealing with the suicide of a loved one moved me to tears. Each play was performed with honesty and skill on the part of the student actors. The most telling was the audience’s reaction, which only grew in engagement and enjoyment as the night went on.
I was truly surprised by the range and nerve of many of the shows. One of the plays explored our obsession with celebrities, and the zany things we do to get our chance at fame.
Another followed a dinner between two exes, riddled with sexual tension, innuendo, fiery kisses, and general hilarity. Another asked what would happen if an elf granting a Christmas wish suddenly turned into a malicious life or death situation.
But “The Director’s Project”is so much more than an enjoyable compilation of short plays. In the words of Marisa Sigas, a second-year computer science major and the director of “Becky’s X-Mas List”, it gives students the opportunity exercise both a passion for STEM-related fields and the arts, whether as directors, actors, or stage crew.
She says that, “People polarize the fields so much, but both require problem solving and creativity, and experience in each one can really inform work in the other.” Some directors, like senior Jason Newkirk, had the added challenge of working with technology in their main props.
Sigas says that directing requires three distinct skills: “cooperation, communication, and decisiveness”. The directors were in charge of casting their play, organizing rehearsals, balancing the work of actors with different levels of experience, and working to ultimately communicate their message to a diverse student audience.
Some students, like Sigas, had never directed before, while others, such as super-senior Janelle Castellano (director of “Jump”), had worked as a director in New York City, and were able to bring a broader perspective to their directing experience.
The course Directing is taught by Professor Louis Wells every other year and is open to all majors. Wells says that the goal of the class is simple: “How do you tell a clear story?”
While the curtain has closed on this year’s “Director’s Project”, make sure to buy your tickets to the next one. It is not something to miss.