Student Directors are Ready for ‘Action’

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Jessie Koon • The Spectator

Jessie Koon •  The Spectator
Jessie Koon • The Spectator

The student directors of Rosa Joshi’s directing class will debut their scenes at the Lee Center next week.

Lights!
Camera!
Action!

Get ready for student-directed plays.

Juniors and seniors taking the THTR 4200 Directing class taught by associate theater professor Rosa Joshi have worked throughout the quarter to prepare their own student-directed scenes for performances at the Lee Center for the Arts next week.

“It is a class about working with actors,” said Joshi. “Directors are responsible for selecting their scenes, analyzing, casting, rehearsing and then going into tech. Inside of class we are learning techniques for working with actors and outside of class they spend hours and hours in rehearsal.”

Auditions were open to all students, faculty and staff who wanted to participate. Some of the works that will be featured in the performances include scenes from William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Clifford Odets’ “Waiting for Lefty,” and Patrick Marber’s “Closer.”

“I’ve been really impressed with the selection of their scenes and the work they’ve chosen to tackle,” Joshi said. “It’s really ambitious work.”

The directing class, which is open to theater and film studies majors, can be taken by students twice. Of the 10 students in this year’s class, four are taking the course for the second time. Students taking the course for the first time will each be directing a 10— to 20—minute scene featuring two actors.

“I am directing a scene from ‘The Normal Heart’ by Larry Kramer: Act one, scene four,” said senior film studies major TJ Montoya. “I have never actually directed for the stage before so this is a first for me.”

“The Normal Heart” is set in New York City in the 1980s. It is about a gay man who tries to create an organization to raise awareness about a mysterious new disease that is killing many people in the gay community. The play also has a love story, and Montoya’s scene will depict the first date between the main character and a journalist he meets.

“I think this play by Kramer is really important because of the history,” Montoya said. “It’s about getting attention for HIV and AIDS and a history of the original gay rights movement. I want [the audience] to understand the history of it and understand how much work we have put into this [scene].”

Students who are taking the class for a second time are given more difficult projects. The scene or play must feature more than two actors and they can select multiple scenes from a larger variety of genres.

“I am directing three scenes from the play ‘Spring Awakening’ by Frank Wedekind,” said senior theater major Ginny McClure. “I took the class last year and my experience was unique in that I had to recast an actor about halfway through. This year I got really lucky by casting five really dedicated actors.”

The century-old play depicts the tragedies of growing up and the misunderstanding between older and younger generations; a message to which any modern audience can relate. It has also been banned several times for featuring controversial subjects such as sex and abuse.

“I have loved this play since I was 15 and I’m so excited to work on it and have people see this thing I love so much,” McClure said. “I want to provide a sense of solidarity for both adults and young people, but I also want to shock them in such a way that if there’s something they thought didn’t need to be talked about, hopefully the last scene will provide a reason or opportunity to start that conversation.”

The entire show is student-produced, giving the students an opportunity to showcase the wide range of theater and film skills they have cultivated throughout their studies at Seattle U.

“Directing is such an empowering thing for young students, as it gives them an opportunity to realize their artistic vision that they are in charge of,” Joshi said. “I think it is also empowering for other students to see their peers take on these leadership roles. I imagine watching what your peers can accomplish might make you think as a student what you can be capable of.”

The performances for the student-directed scenes will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 10 and Thursday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lee Center for the Arts. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to help fund future student-produced work.

Harrison may be reached at [email protected]