Theatre: Student directing projects

By Maya A. Weisinger

Every year the students of the Directing 1 class take on the august initiative of casting and directing a performance piece of their choice. With eight involved students enrolled in the class this semester and the final showing right around the corner, the tensity of “showtime” is very much in the air. For one director, the project took a poignant position as he and his cast are all in first-time ranks. John Bennett ‘14 delved into this first directing project of his with the goal of expanding his already extensive theatrical groundings. By inviting two individuals whom have never been actors on the stage before to join him in his undertaking, this project has opened a new venue for him to explore his talents and goals in the theatre. From his start at Macalester, Bennett was steadfast on securing himself in the theatre department, determined to “learn as much as possible from the really great teachers here.” Adding directing to not only his major track, but also to his intent onstage, backstage and light work has allowed him to “implement things [he is] learning from [his] acting class into [his] directing class. What better way to live and work than to be able to…know the process from both sides.”
This sentiment seems to be greatly appreciated from the actors involved in the project. Bert Yaffe ‘15 and Mbemba Camara ‘14 expressed their newfound roles to be paramount to their experiences in performance in general. “I wanted to try something different. It’s interesting. It’s forcing me to explore things I’ve never explored before. I’m considering doing more theatre,” Camara says.

Yaffe adds, “I was always interested in theatre, I just never had the guts to do it. John built up my confidence…I have more appreciation for theatre now..[and] being someone who’s not myself is kind of fun.” Bennett chose the rousing piece, “How These Men Talk,” by Enda Walsh after studying up on a collection of her works over the winter break. With the class directing project limiting performance time to 30 minutes and in minimalist form, Bennett picked an intriguing piece that he deemed feasible for two actors. “My goals were to cast two people that have never done theatre before and bring that excitement from the outside to the inside. I achieved that goal and couldn’t be happier with the amount of attention and care given to the piece by the two actors,” Bennett says. The troupe of first timers will take the stage the first week in May alongside eight other acts that are sure to project the months of cultivated skill and preparation. “Theatre is for everyone and should be done by everyone. It’s been helpful to have been gratified by that,” Bennett says. refresh –>