Students take the director’s chair

Annual Directors Festival shares students’ directing skills in one-act plays

Ashley Wadhwani, Arts & Entertainment Editor Ω

Dress rehearsal of Awkward Silence, a one-act play that will be shown at the Directors Festival, which starts April 7. Photo courtesy Allison Clow

Dress rehearsal of Awkward Silence, a one-act play that will be shown at the Directors Festival, which starts April 7. Photo courtesy Allison Clow

From April 7 to 12, the Actors Workshop Theatre will present their 15th annual Directors Festival, where 10 TRU students have taken the role of directing a one-act play of their choice. The festival is the year-end project of the fourth-year directing class – the final step in the theatre program after taking acting and technical classes.

Allison Clow, director of one-act play Awkward Silence, has learned a lot about the vital importance of good communication in a leadership role.

“One of the biggest skills you learn is how to communicate and having a respect as well. As a director you have to work with the actors, the technicians and the stage managers. You learn to respect the art in every aspect of putting a show together,” Clow said.

“You learn that communication, if it were to break down, is incredibly difficult to overcome so you’re learning the proper way to communicate with everyone around you,” said Christine Leroux, director of one-act play Just Knots. Leroux is interested in pursuing stage management post-graduation.

The actors in the plays are TRU theatre students, allowing students to explore the different roles of the set in a comfortable setting. For Allandra Barton, third-year acting student and actress in the one-act play Awkward Silence, she said this has been a great experience acting as a character with little back story, allowing her to make it up herself.

“A lot of the time you have to comb through the script to find what we call given circumstances—things that have happened in the past that we comb through and find in the script; we didn’t have any of that so it was a blank slate to work with,” Barton said.

Like any class that spends a significant amount of time together, the actors and directors are all good friends, Barton said. This creates an interesting dynamic on set when directors need to take the lead and instruct and direct.

“The nice thing about having a professor as a director is they have obviously done this before so they have a very clear idea of what they want when they first go into the process, whereas with a student director you have to be fully aware that they are learning just as much as you are. You have to be patient with them as well as with yourself,” said Barton. “It’s a challenge but an interesting challenge to see.”

Most of the third year acting students performing in the one-act plays will be taking the directing course starting in the fall 2014 semester. The experience of watching the directors now will prepare them for the challenges they’ll face next year.

The 10 one-act plays are divided into two nights. The plays on night “A” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on April 7, 9, and 11 and night “B” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on April 8, 10, and 12.  For more information on ticket sales and show times, visit the Old Main box office located next to Starbucks in Old Main, or call 250-377-6100.