Directors Festival features: Morgan Benedict and Kayla Alfred

Directors Festival gives graduating students a chance to try their hand at theatre directing

Directors Festival director Morgan Benedict. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

The annual Directors Festival from TRU’s Actors Workshop Theatre will give six senior students a chance to try their hand at directing. The festival will be comprised of a variety of original scripts and adaptations with a twist.

Morgan Benedict is one of the six directors participating in the festival. She will showcase her play The Most Massive Women Wins, by Madeleine George on Night B of the festival.

“It’s about four women at a liposuction clinic. They’re all there for different reasons, to get liposuction or have their bodies modified in some way,” Benedict said.

Benedict said that the play explores a variety of elements such as nursery rhymes and different kinds of movement.

“It’s definitely like a feminist piece. It’s something that’s very important to me, that women are treated equally. The way media perceives women now is so terrible and horrible. So, this is my little way of making a stand, girl power! It’s super, super important to me and I think it’s very topical with what’s going on in the world right now,” Benedict said.

Benedict says that she’s experienced in many facets of theatre, like acting and stage managing, but this is her first time directing a production, adding that it’s a lot harder than it looks and that she’s never given director’s quite enough credit until now.

“I think the biggest challenge for me is, because I’m an actor and have a dance background, to sit back and let my girls do their [own] thing,” Benedict said. “And allowing them to pave their own way and build their own characters.”

She says that the opportunity to direct her own play, although challenging, has also been really rewarding.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself through this piece, and I’ve learned a lot more about what I stand for and what’s important to me. I have a stronger feminist backbone to myself now. It’s also so great seeing these women work so hard and care so much about something that I care about,” Benedict said.

Benedict added that finding the perfect script to commit two months of her time to and curate the perfect style was a very hard decision to make.

“This is definitely my stamp on our program,” Benedict said. “So, finding something worth leaving my name on was a big commitment and a big step.”

After graduation, Benedict plans to continue working in theatre by stage managing and acting in various productions.

“Right now, I’m working with Chimera Theatre and Project X Theatre and I’m hoping to do some stuff in Vancouver. I’ll be happy as long as theatre’s in my life,” Benedict said.

Kayla Alfred will present on Night A of the festival. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

Kayla Alfred is also one of the six directors participating in the festival. She will showcase her play Caught in the Act by Bruce Kane on Night A of the festival.

“I’ve been told it’s meta [and] it’s very ‘out there’ – very edgy. Basically, imagine if you woke up one day and there was someone next to you, and it seems like you guys are in a relationship or something and then they’re like, no we’ve never known each other,” Alfred said.

The play surrounds two characters in a play being controlled by a writer who can’t make up his mind and keeps changing their story.

“When they try to gain independence, that’s when he really pulls at them and makes them completely different people,” Alfred said.

Alfred says that she originally had a different play picked out for the festival, but after taking a break from the program she didn’t feel like it was right anymore.

“I started [the program] in 2009 and then I hit my head in the winter of my third year. So, I came back and did one semester of directing, went and had brain surgery and then I came back two years later now to do the second half,” Alfred said.

She adds that coming back after two years has had its challenges, but there were some positive things that came out of it.

“All of the other directors knew all of the actors going in and have different relationships with them. But I had no idea, so it was kind of neat because it was almost like a more realistic directing experience. You wouldn’t know the people beforehand usually,” Alfred said.

Alfred said that she got lucky with her two actors because they really understand their individual characters and the play overall. It was important to her that they could differentiate when they’re being controlled by the writer and when they’re being themselves.

“They are playing two different characters and then they also have to realize that their background comes from this one person. So, they’re both different images of the same person,” Alfred said.

For Alfred, being able to control absolutely everything is the best part of this experience.

“I never get to control anything in my life. I’m sick, so I can’t even control my body sometimes. So, it’s awesome being able to control what happens on stage,” Alfred said.

After graduation, Alfred says she’s heading back to school to finish her payroll certification, but she also plans to volunteer here and there with Chimera theatre.

Night A of the festival will take place on April 10, 12 and 14. Night B will take place on April 11, 13 and 15 at the Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $14 each for one night, $20 each for both nights, and there will be three shows per evening.