Students direct One Acts 2003


by Sara Cowden

Directing a play means calling the shots, making the big decisions and being flexible. So when one of director Allison Smith’s actors accidentally fell off of the stage at rehearsals, she quickly changed the scene to incorporate that fall.

“After that happened, I said, ‘Oh, I like that and we’re going to keep it,'” said Smith, a senior theater major. “From that moment on, it was written in that she had to fall down.”

Smith said a number of cast members are covered in bruises due to the physicality in the play.

Smith is one of the two directors for this year’s One Acts. Senior Sam Pohl will be directing “The Pot Boiler,” while Smith’s production is entitled, “A Game.”

“I chose ‘A Game’ because the characters go through dramatic changes from the beginning of the play to the end,” said Smith. “I wanted to help actors portray those changes.”

According to Smith, “A Game” is about three people who volunteer for a psychological experiment and what happens to them due to the conditions the doctor controls.

Pohl said she liked the way “The Pot Boiler” shows a different side of what theater could be when a playwright does not have his play written and the actors are confrontational.

“The humor is what really drew me in,” said Pohl. “When I first read the play, I was expecting it to be more realistic, but the cast was so boisterous that it has really become almost cartoon-like. But I love how it has changed.”

One Acts are considered the final project for theater professor Jennifer Nostrala’s Directing Studio class. Smith and Pohl had to choose their One Act play at the end of last semester. The beginning of this semester they were busy working on character and theme analyzing.

For the last three weeks the directors have been rehearsing with casts and crews. Both directors said they have put in eight to 12 hours per week since rehearsals began.

“I have heard that you should rehearse an hour for every minute of the play,” said Pohl. “Mine is 30 minutes long and I am sticking pretty close to that.”

Both directors said good communication is very important throughout the process.

“The director is really the hub of communication for a production,” said Smith. “I have to have a clear and concise idea of what I want my play to be if I am going to pass that on to the cast and designing crews.”

According to Nostrala, all of the decisions are made by the directors, but she is available for advice whenever they ask.

“I think that it is always a great experience for me to watch these one-acts,” said Nostrala. “It allows them to take what they have learned and apply it themselves.”

Pohl said she was very apprehensive about taking the course, so much so that she had consulted Nostrala about how to get out of it.

“I was nervous about directing-I thought, ‘What if all of these brilliant things don’t come to me?'” said Pohl. “But they did. Through this class I have found a real love for directing that I didn’t know I had before. Seeing it from just paper to where we are right now is such a feeling of accomplishment.”

Junior Eric Moorman is a cast member in “A Game” and said he jumped at the chance to be on stage.

“Allison has done a really good job coming up with new ideas for how the play is interpreted,” said Moorman. “It is tough to get a message across in 25 minutes, but I think we’ve done that with this play.”

Tickets can be reserved or purchased at the box office at Blank Performing Arts Center.

“We have been reading these books about theories of theater and directing, but it is so cool to read about it and then have it happen to you later that night in rehearsals,” said Smith. “The whole experience has really made me feel like I am an actual director. And this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”