With each theatrical production, students are given the opportunity to shine onstage. The fall play allows actors to strut their stuff dramatically, while the musical gives vocalists the chance to take the spotlight and the variety show showcases those with more unique talents, January’s production, the “One Act Wonders,” has the added appeal of also providing work to student directors.
This year, five students collaborated with their peers in directing four different mini plays: “Mothers and Daughters” directed by seniors Emily Franke and Megan Manoj, “You Won’t Believe What Happened” directed by junior Ben Jaeger, “Disney Mom Group Therapy” directed by senior Mary Daniels and “My Big Fat Greek Divorce” directed by senior Kelly Rogers.
Daniels, who has directed scenes for Comedy Troupe before, considered the process of directing her skit to be fairly painless and enjoyable, citing her collaboration as the key to directing.
“It was basically us going through lines and me asking everyone’s opinion to get an equal creative input from everyone,” Daniels said. “I wanted the scene to be a combination of what everyone thought, not just what I thought.”
Daniels’s long-time friend, and fellow director, Jaeger was the only student to write his own scene as well as direct which, in his words, was hectic. Early in the process, Jaeger was bombarded by ideas that involved ensemble casts and audience involvement and opted, instead, for a minimalist approach with only four characters and a parallel dialogue structure.
When rehearsals actually rolled around, Jaeger initially struggled with the changes and adaptations made to his
original vision, but allowed his actors to make the characters their own and breathe life into them.
“A line would be read differently, or some characteristic was added. I had to fight the urge to micromanage and just let the scene run its course,” Jaeger said. “It wasn’t too difficult, as I was fortunate enough to have a cast of people whom I could trust to improvise certain parts if they so choose and still end up with an amazing scene.”
Having worked closely with his senior counterparts, Jaeger is optimistic for his future in writing and performing next year. One of those counterparts was Rogers, another first time director, only having performed and worked with the tech crew in the past.
Rogers came out of the experience more appreciative of the school’s staff directors after walking in their shoes. When comparing the “One Act Wonders” to the musical or the fall play, Rogers noted that “it’s much smaller, intimate cast, and it’s nice because you get the feel for what our staff goes through, but in a much smaller parameter and a much shorter time.”
Regarding Rogers’ professionalism as a student director, junior Diego Franco, who portrayed Zeus in Rogers’ skit, described her as incredibly helpful while still being fun to work with.
As for the only pair of collaborative directors, Franke and Manoj’s play was entirely comprised of poems they strung together to express the deeply emotional relationship between mothers and daughters.
“Emily and I talked a lot about the message we wanted to share and how we wanted to do that,” Manoj said. “We started off by listing the stage of each mother and daughter’s relationship, we found poems online and then we collaborated on how we wanted to see it on stage. It was fun working with her on this scene.”