Lights Up on Student-Driven Theatre
As finals week begins, some theatre students got a head start on their exams by presenting a practical application of their skills with the annual Director’s Showcase.
It’s the culmination of the class, in which students get to use all of the various skills they're learned in class during the semester, including casting, text analysis and working with actors.
Directors Showcase is an evening of theatre encompassing acting, directing and technical aspects and is completely spearheaded by students. This serves as the final exam for those enrolled in the Theatre 303: Directing class.
Professor Craig Latrell explains that “It’s the culmination of the class, in which students get to use all of the various skills they're learned in class during the semester, including casting, text analysis and working with actors.”
This year, six student directors presented their work. The shows ranged from comedies involving animals to dramatic pieces dealing with themes of mortality. The directors are given complete creative control over who they cast, costuming, lighting and sound.
In order to stage these productions, the class holds open auditions where all students are able to audition for a role in one or more of the shows. In total, 16 students were cast to perform as everything from a small lap dog to a disembodied voice.
Despite tackling these shows mostly independently, the class still serves as a support system.
Jennie Wilber ’17, currently a director who has been involved in the showcase previously, explains that the “process has been comparatively smooth because all of us have worked well together. We are able to serve as a helpful and constructive sounding board for one another.”
The Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts opened in the fall of 2014. Theatre features include:
- Flexible theatre (175 seats) with trap floor and moveable catwalks
- Lab theatre (100 seats)
- Costume and scene shops
- Dressing and green rooms with audio or video monitors for both theatres
- Performance studio/classroom
- Outdoor amphitheatre
Wilber took on a particularly challenging piece by renowned playwright Samuel Beckett. Coincidentally, she also appeared in a Beckett piece her first year.
Despite the playwright putting very particular constraints on her show, Footfalls, Wilber finds it as “both a perk and a challenge, that he controls so many of your choices. I am able to really hone in on the choices that I can make.”
Latrell echoes this sentiment, noting that “Every year the students create some really remarkable pieces of theatre using very little in the way of scenery, lights, and costumes. It’s all about the actor and the text.”
Noelani Stevenson ’19, one of the student actors, was excited to return to Director’s Showcase for a second year. “I just love the process of putting together these pieces. It’s low key but intense as you discover and explore things together. It’s a great back and forth and really great fun.”
Stevenson is also engaged in other student-driven theatre efforts on campus. On the recent uptick of student involvement in the department, Stevenson notes that “we always need student theatre at Hamilton. Director’s Showcase is a mini version because it is all students but with the academic component.