Director Dispatches

Director Dispatches Part Three: On A Joyful Opening Night, Beginning A Farewell

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

The thump, thump, thump of hammers came to a halt, and the stage finally started to look like the world of the play. To my right, I could hear the soft clack of makeup brushes, the occasional burst of hairspray, and the rustle of clothing on the costume rack. Behind me, three students murmured reminders about lighting and music cues, and another student burst through the door with drinks for herself and other crew members. And of course, there were the voices of actors on stage, running and re-running scenes. All of this noise meant that the play was coming up in just a matter of days. The countless hours of rehearsing, planning, laughing, and worrying began to sink in. Everyone in the production was waiting for these two nights, when we'd finally perform our production of Agatha Christie's "Witness for the Prosecution."
 
When that first night finally came, it felt surreal watching the show alongside so many pairs of eyes that were seeing it for the first time. It was also thrilling to see the opening night adrenaline push the actors to inhabit their characters more fully than they ever had before. There were unexpected reactions from the audience, who spontaneously stood up to take a communal oath as the jury and clapped when they heard the final verdict. And it was especially wonderful to see how unsuspecting they were of the real murderer. 

By the last time we reached the final line of the show -- “Guilty, my lord” -- I had never felt happier. I was overcome with joy and pride for the production, along with great sadness that the process was over. I was so touched by the actors’ performances that by the end of the second night, I found myself crying during curtain call and through most of strike.
 
From the very beginning, I knew that directing this play would be exciting, challenging, and entirely worth all of the effort, but now that the production is over, I truly feel the weight of those words. Directing this play was an opportunity that I’ll never forget; I’ve never done something so rewarding in my life. I’m so thankful that I got to work with my friends, my teachers, and the parents of my peers. I am so glad that I got to know the actors better and had the opportunity to see their skills develop. And I am especially grateful that I got to experience this beautiful production before I left Meridian. I can't think of a more meaningful way to say goodbye.
 

Director Dispatches Part One: Auditions & First Rehearsals

This post is by Meridian senior Yvonne, who will document her experience as a student director over the next several months.

Meridian’s plays have consisted of tragedies, romances, comedies, and political dramas, but I wanted to direct something that we’d never done before. I mean, I love suspenseful and thrilling stories, so I was confident that I wanted to direct a murder mystery.

I had a few scripts to choose from, such as The Bold, the Young, and the Murdered by Don Zolidis, The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop, and Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring. Some plays were more comedic than they were suspenseful, others had a concerningly small list of characters, and some just didn’t click. However, there was one script that pulled me into its story. Making the set for this play, making scenes suspenseful and engaging, adding the right elements of comedy, choreographing physical scenes, and directing actors in general will be challenges for me. I thought, If I put on this play, I think I’d be proud of myself. Meridian’s 2016 spring play will be Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie.

At auditions, it was awesome to see both middle and high school students showing interest in the production, and they were even more exciting because every actor is so gifted and passionate. There were students who have never been in theatre before, but showed that they had great capabilities. My initial fears around directing were pushed aside, because this was a chance to work with Meridian’s talented and supportive actors. How could I be afraid of that?

Last Thursday, the actors finished their first read-through of the play. They seemed just as, or even more, excited about the script as I was. And ultimately, I think, the more excited a group of actors are about their play, the stronger their play will be. It’s such a privilege to work with these students, and to work behind the scenes with Humanities teachers Catherine and Nathan, and with my friends Emmanuel, Sabina, and Haben, who will be helping me direct whenever they have a chance.

I’m getting a good feeling from all of this. There are so many exciting things happening right now. Even though things will be challenging in the moment, I think they will be worth it.