Student directors show off their skills

Kristen Halsey

In one week, the students of the directing theory class get to put their newly learned directing skills in action.
The class will present a 10-minute play festival with each student presenting their final project, a directed show.

Most students in the class are new to the directing experience.

Jackie Wiles, a junior theater and digital cinema major, is one of the many students new to directing.

“I’ve never directed before,” Wiles said. “I’ve done everything else but directing. It’s definitely an experience. I’ve learned a lot of things in this class and it has given me a broader sense of the work that goes into a play.”

The shows are from a list of Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival finalists from 2009 and 2010.

Each student selected one play from the list of finalists and held open auditions for the community and campus.

“I chose ‘The Ballad of 423 and 424’ because I thought the writing for the script was amazing, and I could relate to both the characters in the show, Roderick and Ellen,” Wiles said. “The script is also very funny and awkward as well as heartwarming at the end.”

Meghan Marquardt, a sophomore theater and English writing major, is another student actor in the festival. Marquardt plays the role of Ellen in “the Ballad of 423 and 424.”

“Working with student directors is great,” Marquardt said. “They’re learning with you, and so the process is dynamic. You really feel like a team. Jackie has been great. She definitely has a vision, and she’s clear about what she wants to see on stage, but she’s very open to our ideas and input as well.”

While most students are new to directing, some students in the class are not strangers to the directing experience.

Courtney Brown, a junior theater, secondary English and French education major, has had experiences directing and assistant directing in the Youth Theatre here in Marquette.

Most recently, she has directed “Willy Wonka” for the 2011 summer season at Lake Superior Theatre.

“I only have two actors instead of 95 kids this time around. It’s a bit more of a challenge than a musical is,” Brown said. “What song and music make up for in a musical, you don’t have in a play. It’s real easy for a straight show like this to fall flat.”

The biggest part of the class is being able to take the techniques and exercises they learn during the class and apply it to their rehearsal process.

Although Brown comes from experience, she said the class has taught here some things she wished she had learned before.

“I wish I would have taken it sooner. The class itself is fun and I think just presenting a show on stage is a challenge most do not understand until you actually do it,” Brown said.

Courtney will be directing the play “Spaceships or Things That Look Like Them.”

“I chose this show out of reading all of them because I love the sibling relationship,” Brown said. “I didn’t quite get it when I chose it at first. It took me a couple times reading through it to get what the author was going for,” Brown said.

The festival is not only a learning opportunity for the students in the class but also the community and campus students who are acting.

Jake DeLong, a freshmen theater major, plays the role of David in Brown’s show.

“My director put a lot of thought into the piece which is what I like about it. She is going more in depth about the story and really bringing out each actor’s potential in a character,” DeLong said.

The challenge for both the directors and actors is effectively trying to present a character’s journey in 10 minutes.

“It is a bit of a struggle for all of us because of the 10 minute limit to a show,” DeLong said. “It’s a work in progress but we’re coming along great. I feel once we get off book and get more comfortable in the rehearsal process, we can let out the emotion that is needed for the play.”

The festival will be split up into two days. Each day will have a series of plays directed by a different student. There are thirteen total plays in the festival.

The festival takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7 and Thursday, Dec. 8 in the Black Box Theatre.
Admission is free and open to the public. For more information email the FRT Box Office at [email protected].