By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Zayna
Emmanuel walks in to Catherine’s room, ready to direct. They point to a picture on the board that they previously drew of the set plan, and explain to the actors how they’ll be moving through the space in this rehearsal.
Emmanuel is a senior in high school, though they came to Meridian in 6th grade and started PAA -- our theater program -- in 7th grade. They wanted to try directing because last year their friend Yvonne directed and Emmanuel assisted her; they found this experience very inspiring. This spring, Emmanuel is directing a play called "The Love for Three Oranges." When asked why they wanted to direct a play in the commedia dell’arte style, they said: “It's an old Italian theater that emphasizes comedy, improv, and over the top-ness. And this play, The Love for Three Oranges, epitomized that.” But beyond the play itself, Emmanuel’s overall goal is making sure the actors have a good experience.
At rehearsal, they start out with a few warm up games to get the actors ready. Emmanuel gathers everyone in a circle, they all began to play a game called “Waa,” a quick reflex game. Emmanuel plays enthusiastically, engaging the cast.
In the next game, one actor sits in a chair at a “bus stop” and one or two others come up next to them, trying to make the person sitting on the chair laugh. Emmanuel chose this game to exercise the actors’ sense of humor, since the play is such an over the top comedy. Emmanuel is engaged with the game, laughing and talking.
Next, they do a “line through,” in which actors sit in a circle and simply recite the lines in a scene without any movement; this helps with the memorization process. When some cast members forget their lines, Emmanuel is encouraging, but also firm to make sure the actor practices for next time.
After the line through, the actors work on scenes. They stand up and follow directing and blocking from Emmanuel. Emmanuel confirms that everyone understands before continuing the scene.
Emmanuel does not take themselves too seriously, and this is helpful in the rehearsal room. They laugh, make jokes, and the whole cast feels comfortable with them. When asked about Emmanuel’s directing style, Nick, one of the actors, explained, “They are very engaging and they know a lot about Italian farces.”
Stay tuned for the play this spring!