Director's Showcase introduces new theatre skills and sharpens old ones
Directing students presented the final curtain call of the semester as they ran the Director’s Showcase on Saturday.
This annual theatrical project gives theatre students in Associate Professor of Theatre Dan Buck’s Directing course the opportunity to cast and direct their own 10-minute scenes for performance in front of an audience.
The scenes are from plays written and set within the past 20 years. This exposes theatre students to a variety of modern plays of which they may be unaware.
Every student in Directing is required to select, cast and direct a scene, while every student in Associate Professor of Theatre Christine Williams’ Intro to Acting class is required to participate as a cast member. Any roles left unclaimed are filled by other actors and actresses who audition.
Junior English major Danielle Shumaker, a member of the Directing class, explained that this project allows students to practically apply what they learn in the class and also forces students to learn how to work together in a creative setting.
“Whether you’re an actor building your repertoire of characters or a director learning how to capture your vision for a scene, Director’s Showcase allows students to grow and learn collaboratively,” Shumaker said. “Theatre creates a unique experience where you can think artistically and have your work sharpened by others.”
Junior theatre major Jake Wallin, another member of the Directing class, added that Director’s Showcase gives students who usually act the opportunity to direct. As acting opportunities are often more available than directing opportunities in the department, getting to choose a scene from a play, cast it and direct it in a formal setting is a valuable experience for theatre students.
“As someone who usually acts, my favorite part has been the opportunity to work on the other side of stage and learn more about that,” Wallin said. “Even in a small show, there is a lot for a director to do. They’re in charge of everything from locating the right props and set pieces to coordinating rehearsal schedules.”
Junior theatre major Stephanie Wolfe, another member of the Directing class, explained that, because it involves so many people, the project not only serves to help students showcase their acting and directing talents, but it also gives exposure to modern plays that might otherwise go unnoticed.
In fact, according to Wolfe, the experience goes further than simply gaining awareness of new plays.
“It is about gaining a deeper knowledge of the play than most people,” Wolfe said. “I love how close one becomes with the work itself, which enhances the theatrical learning process.”
Wolfe expressed her appreciation for the hard work and deep understanding of a play required of a director.
Sophomore cinema major Baxter Dowell, an Intro to Acting student, expressed how grateful he is for the opportunity to experiment with the acting techniques he learned in class in a small-scale and low-pressure environment. He also enjoyed working with members of the theatre department he might not otherwise have gotten a chance to collaborate with.
Though the project itself has come to a close, the stage awaits the direction of next year’s wave of participants.