The commitment by student actors gets a round of applause at curtain call and the directors often show their appreciation for them as well. But these student directors gave insight into what it was like directing a student written one act, and the spotlight is now on them.
Following the student-written one acts which occurred two weekends ago, student directors, Katrina Gregory and Kyrsten Bowman, described their approach to directing.
“For the Student Written One Acts in particular, I wanted to be a collaborative director,” said Gregory about directing “Are You Having Fun?” “Throughout the process, I asked my actors a lot of questions about what they think they’re saying at that moment and what they really want.” She explained that through these questions it is then expected that the actors will make their own choices.
Gregory also wrote the one act “Red Crustacean,” which was then directed by Kyrsten Bowman.
Bowman stated that because she is studying English education and enjoys acting and singing, she feels like the mix of both has provided her with a love for directing.
“My typical approach is really discussing the meaning behind a character’s words and actions (very English teacher of me) and really hearing how the actors perceive their role before just putting it onstage,” Bowman said, when describing her directing approach. “I am always open and embrace the actors and creative team’s ideas since theatre must be a massively collaborative effort for anything to go on.”
Both were on the same page in terms of letting their approaches be collaborative with the actors and commented on what they specifically saw when directing these shows.
“I notice this with myself when I’m acting as well, but we tend to hold back on our instincts,” Gregory said. “A lot of times, I watch actors shuffle their feet when it’s clear their instincts are telling them to go somewhere during a scene. I think actors tend to second-guess themselves sometimes.”
Gregory added that not second guessing as an actor can make a huge difference in a show. Bowman also comments on certain things actors do that can make a big difference in the final product.
“I notice that nothing ever stays the exact same, and really don’t want it to. It keeps the show compelling and unpredictable,” said Bowman. She explained that sometimes the actors will make a different choice than expected and it turns out really absurd and hilarious so she would say, “oh my god that’s fantastic, keep it.”
Bowman and Gregory both commented on what they thought was a note they were always giving to their actors.
Gregory used two words that were emphasized throughout the whole process: vocal energy. Vocal energy includes variations in loudness, amplitude and intensity in one’s voice. In this instance, Gregory wanted these actors to be louder or have their sound be more amplified or more intense.
Bowman made it clear that every actor was very good at staying in character, but almost too good. Because there were standout moments within her show for each character, she often found herself telling the cast to mellow out when someone is trying to have their so-called, “moment.”
Both student directors not only wanted their shows to be great, but have the respect from the student playwrights. They wanted to direct, which is something they enjoy, while also having some fun with it. These student directors may have been offstage, but their impact was felt and more appreciation is now in text.
Timothy Smith is a senior Communication Studies major with a minor in Journalism. TS944841@wcupa.edu