Director Dispatches Part Two: The Process Intensifies

By 12th grader Yvonne, who is documenting her experience as a student director.

With the play only weeks away, the production has started to pick up speed. Costume, set, and music meetings fill up my lunches and mornings, and rehearsals are now extended to 6:00pm each night. Then when I get home, I have to prep for other theatre-related things, like making lists of props to order and figuring out scene transitions. As a senior, I’ve also had to keep up with academic work, finalize applications for college, and handle college responses. It’s a lot!

But I’m not alone. Like me, I know the actors work a lot at home, too. Witness for the Prosecution is a wordy play. Characters analyze evidence. Characters bicker. Characters talk a lot, so there’s a lot of text to memorize. We’ve had more struggles with memorization than I’d hoped for, but it’s heartening to see us make real progress. Scenes really come alive when the actors aren’t searching for their words.

Even though these responsibilities hold a lot of weight, the two hours that I look forward to most every day day are always those spent in rehearsal. Seeing the actors happy and ready to give it their all makes me happy, too, and it encourages me to try my best for them. Along with this, the play itself is starting to take shape. After asking the cast to “add more energy” and “jump on your cues” at nearly every rehearsal, many actors are getting the hang of bringing suspense and drama into the scenes, and we’ve been making noteworthy progress. In fact, any challenges around blocking, line delivery, set design, or music all seem very fixable. My biggest concern right now is figuring out how to make speedy and smart set changes, but even that isn’t a huge worry.

I think I feel calm, in part, because I’ve had so much support. I’ve had help with directing from Catherine, Emmanuel, and Sabina, and I’ve got two wonderful costume designers in Jo, a 9th grader, and Carrie, a Meridian parent. I’ve also started to work with Laura and Max on music, and with Nathan, Maia, and Dani on set.

Lastly, I’m so grateful to the actors. For some, this is their fourth play at Meridian, and for others, it’s their first. I’m especially glad that they give me feedback on my directing from time to time; I like to think it means that they trust me. They’ve expressed that rehearsals are fun for them, I find so much joy in knowing that. Just last week, we moved rehearsal from Catherine’s classroom to the Parish Hall, where we’ll be performing! “It feels official now,” Piper told me. The play is beginning to really take its shape, and I’m so excited to see the results of everyone’s hard work.