This is the first of a collection of posts about my first time directing a play. I’ll take you through the pre-production process, rehearsals, and opening night.
My No. 1 goal in life is and has always been to help others. After years of researching every possible career path imaginable, I realized that helping others doesn’t only have to involve being a doctor, but I could do the same through the art as well. This semester, after acting in several shows and sound-designing a couple of others, I wanted to try something new. I wondered, “How else can I grow? What else can I learn?”
Directing a show had always been an interest of mine and I’ll hopefully have an opportunity to direct for my senior capstone project. Due to scheduling issues, I haven’t taken a directing course yet and knew it would be too ambitious to undertake an entire department production as my directorial debut. When I discussed this with a few friends, one of them turned to me and asked, “Why don’t you direct for Wig and Candle?” Wig and Candle is Conn’s student-run theater group in which students can write, direct and act in and design productions with smaller budgets, smaller spaces and less-demanding rehearsals. I didn’t even consider the prospect of doing so before I replied, “Of course! I should’ve done that a long time ago!”
Next came the time for me to pick a show and a production team (stage manager, assistant director, designers, etc.). I was stumped on all fronts. What show do I like enough to continually unfold and dissect? Who should I ask to be a part of the team? I already felt swamped without even having anything or anyone picked.
After days of tossing around plays in my head, it came down to two: “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre and “Circle Mirror Transformation” by Annie Baker. I love both of these plays but wanted to pick something that would be a bigger challenge than directing itself would be. So, I picked “No Exit.”
I started asking around for production team members and found everyone I needed: . My amazing stage manager and friend Morgan Grant ’20, Assistant Director Declan Rockett ’20, Lighting Designer Grace Mennell ’19, Costume Designer Carly Sponzo ’21 and Dramaturg Fiona Noyes ’20. I also enlisted the help of my friend Halley McArn, an intern whom I worked with at Steppenwolf Theatre Company last summer, to design graphics and promotional material.
Everything seemed to be falling into place. I acquired a host of books from Ken Prestininzi, chair of the theater department, and ambitiously planned to read all seven of them over winter break (I didn’t). Then I thought, “So where do I begin?”