Category Archives: A&E

Co-stage manager reveals behind-the-scenes look at ‘Newsies’ as performance at International Thespian Festival approaches

By Hannah Tarr

Editor’s Note: A&E reporter and copy editor Hannah Tarr is Co-Stage Manager for FC’s production of Newsies. This is a log of her day spent preparing for the show on the first day of rehearsals this summer.

7 a.m. June 4, 2018. I woke up. I ate breakfast to get fuel for the long day of Newsies work ahead of me.

7:15 I showered, then packed my bag with lunch and dinner.

7:50 I drove to school. I sang along to music to get myself hyped for the long day.

7:58 I arrived at school. To my surprise, no one else was in the parking lot except senior Jack Bishop, who was there for the lighting work session, which was scheduled to start at 8.

8 a.m. Bishop and I entered the school through the unlocked Performing Arts door. I put my lunchbox in the fridge in the theatre break room and we waited for people to show up.

8:13 Parent volunteers, the Star Boosters, had left a water cooler in the hallway for the cast to fill their water bottles with during rehearsals. Bishop and I took it to the custodial maintenance room and filled it with ice.

8:25 I texted the assistant lighting designer, junior Sam Hendrix, and found out the lighting session actually started at 9.

8:28 Bishop and I went to the picnic table outside the theatre door. I connected my laptop to my phone’s hotspot and started answering the dozen emails I had gotten in the past day. I emailed music director Angela Hampton about equipment we needed to borrow from her for recording rehearsals. I emailed a Star Booster about surprises she was planning for the cast and crew during rehearsals. I filed away some conflicts director Robbie Steiner had sent me into the spreadsheet we were keeping of when cast and crew members had scheduled absences from rehearsals. And so on.

8:56 Lighting designer Mike Nevitt, lighting mentor Sam Brown, and Crossfade (Nevitt’s lighting design company) employee Josh Robbins showed up, so we could now go back inside. They headed inside to get started while I wrapped up a few things on my computer.

9:10 Bishop went to help with lighting, and I started working in the tech office on printing paperwork.

The lighting crew were going to be doing light hang, where they hung the different lighting fixtures required by the show on their proper electrics, which are pipes that hang above the stage. During hang, some of the lighting crew would also have to be focused on cabling, to make sure each light was receiving power and information from the light board.

Meanwhile, I was printing cue sheets for every cast and crew member in the show. Cue sheets are used to tell cast and crew when and where they move set pieces during the show, including furniture pieces and our three giant towers. To clarify for them where those towers would go, we have created a transitions list, which shows who moves which tower during each of the 36 transitions of the show. This would be hung up in the hall for the cast and crew’s easy reference.

9:50 The printer had 70 jobs in its queue from all of those cue sheets and transitions, so I went onstage to start setting up the manager table and the keyboard. I set up a white table on the stage right half of the pit cover for me and my Co Stage Manager, graduate Makenna Baughman, to sit at. I put some chairs behind it, and brought the script, score, and Stage Manager Kit over to it. Our Stage Manager Kit, Franken “Stanley” Franklin, is a big Stanley brand toolbox that holds spike tape, scissors, pens, pencils, bandaids, Kleenexanything cast or crew could need during a rehearsal. On the stage left side of the pit cover went the keyboard on its stand with a chair and a music stand for our rehearsal pianist, Jess Bullock. I grabbed a speaker from the lighting storage room in the choir room, called the lighthouse, and plugged it into the keyboard. But I could not figure out where the keyboard power cord was.

10:40 The whole transition list was printed, so I took a break from working on the keyboard and got to work taping up the transition list in the hallway. I had printed each of the 36 transitions on its own sheet of paper, so I was going to tape them all in a line down the hallway.

10:43 Steiner walked in. He was pleased to see that I was working on putting up the transitions list. “Are you excited for rehearsal to start?” he asked me, enthusiastic as ever. “Heck yeah,” I said, genuinely. Even though it had already taken me a lot of work today to begin getting ready, and there were even more hours of working before the cast would even show up, I could not wait to get started.

10:50 Sophomore Frances Crim walked in to help out, so I passed off to her my current job of taping up the transitions list. I went back onstage to get set for spiking the set pieces. I got all of the colors of spike tape out of Stanley and arranged them in rainbow order. I called up all of the ground plans on my laptop, which are drawings of the stage for each scene to show where the towers are supposed to be set. I grabbed a printoff of the Spike Color Key, which showed the color we spiked each groundplan in and the two or three letter code we wrote on each tiny mark. We had created this when we did the spiking for the show back in November, and we wanted to use the same colors and codes so the cast and crew would remember their spikes easier.

11 a.m. Sound mentor Brad Murphy asked me to add some sound work sessions to the Google calendar and master schedule spreadsheet, so I did. We keep a spreadsheet of the whole schedule of rehearsals and work sessions that people can look at, and it is the managers’ jobs to make sure that is synced with the Google calendar that everyone can add to their phones. By having both of these things, everyone can hopefully always know when they need to be at school.

11:07 Steiner asked me to email out the schedule for the day’s choreography review, so I did. Our choreographer, Megan Bliss, had decided to run a half dozen of the songs in show order, and I listed them for the cast. She was optimistic that if everyone came prepared, we would be able to get out early, and I let them know that, too.

11:10 I showed Crim the next step of the transitions list: taping up all of the ground plans to go with the transitions. I had the row of transitions arranged so that each would be in between a ground plan, meaning that people could see that the people assigned to the transition would take the sets from the first groundplan to the next. Hopefully, this long row of pictures and assignments helps people to visualize and understand their cues.

11:30 The lighting work session finished working on electrics, leaving the deck clear, so Crim, Baughman, Steiner, and I started spiking the set pieces. We moved the three giant metal towers to each ground plan and put the properly colored spike tape down on the floor to mark where they belonged. Then we labelled it with the code, and put packing tape over the spike to protect it from dancers and mops. We used the ground plans on my laptop in combination with the production video on Steiner’s to figure out exactly where each piece needed to go for each ground plan.

1 p.m. My brother, freshman Jason Tarr, was helping lighting cable backstage, so I asked him to heat up my leftover Chinese food that I had packed and set it on the manager table so I could eat as I walked by it. I was hungry, but we were working too hard for me to take a break until we were done.

4:40 We finally finished spiking all 19 placements! Except for some smaller furniture pieces that we decided to spike the next day.

4:41 Baughman sat down to rest. I, less civilized, laid on the floor. We talked to our former tech teacher, Evan Wise, about the crazy few weeks we had ahead of us.

4:53 I got a sandwich leftover from the weekend’s dance recital from the break room fridge and ate it on the couch in the tech office, reading Game of Thrones on my Kindle. It was nice to get to sit down and gather myself again before the 5:30 choreography review.

5:15 Break time was over. Baughman and graduate Mitchell Lewis dust mopped the deck, and I finished setting up the keyboard for Bullock. It turned out the missing cables had been in Stanley.

5:28 I took attendance through the microphone that graduate Jordan Burger had just finished setting up. I and Steiner really like having a rehearsal microphone, because it can be difficult to raise your voice above the din of a 74 member cast.

5:30 I helped people get their cue sheets from the giant stack of printoffs I had made. Some of the more prodigious of the cast and crew had kept their cue sheets from November, or printed them off again in the months between, because they had been studying them to stay prepared.

5:37 Bliss arrived and took over rehearsal from assistant choreographer Michael Hommrich, and she and Steiner talked to the cast about unity, and about the amazing journey we were starting on again. My heart swelled as I listened to their words. The managers had had meetings with Steiner, and we had had music rehearsals in the choir room, and dance captain reviews in the dance studio, but here we were again: onstage. It was so close to being real.

5:50 We started the first walkthrough of the first song of the show, “Carrying the Banner.” The actors danced through the song moment to moment, stopping whenever Bliss had a note or one of them had a question.

6:19 Bliss announced that she had just had her first tear up moment of the remount. I did not blame her. “Carrying the Banner” is an adrenaline pumped song sung when the newsies are starting their day of selling newspapers, and it shows their unity and optimism in the face of obstacles the streets of New York City threw at them. It could be a metaphor for us, starting rehearsals again. The cast did it with just as much energy and poise as they did the night we closed in November.

6:44 We finished working through “Carrying the Banner” and went back to run it again. It was even better the second time around.

7:16 We had gotten through “Carrying the Banner Tag” and “Reprise” as well, so we took a five-minute break. I set the timer on my phone,  and announced the time remaining as it ticked down.

7:20 We began working on “The World Will Know.” This was an easier song to review than “Carrying the Banner” had been, because it is not as dance-heavy. But it was just as exciting. It is the number where the newsies get really mad at the newspaper owners and decide to go on strike. I got a little scared when the cast stomped downstage in an angry line and sang right in my and Baughman’s faces, “So the World says no!”

7:49 We finished reviewing “The World Will Know.” I got prop newspapers from Studio One to do “Seize the Day.” This was the number where the newsies actually went on strike. There is a part where the newsies tear newspapers in half, then dance on them, to really rub it in the newspaper owners’ faces. Our props master, senior Kirsten Gude, was not there, but she had told me where the newspapers were, so I got them for the cast to be able to rip up.

8:30 We finished “Seize the Day” and took another 5. The crew in attendance helped Baughman and I gather tables, benches, brooms, spoons, and trays needed for the final number, “King of New York.”

8:41 Locating all of those things had taken longer than a 5, but now we began working lifts in “King of New York.” It is always important to work lifts and fights out of context before you get to them in a song or the show, so you know that everyone involved is prepared to do it safely.

8:45 We began working the choreography of “King of New York.” This is a tap number, and tap has been FC’s forte since 42nd Street two years ago.

9:10 Rehearsal was over and the cast was dismissed. We had not gotten out early, as we had hoped, but we had gotten a lot done, so I think everyone was okay with that.

9:11 I gave a new script to sophomore Nathan Long. We had gotten brand new scripts from Music Theatre International for the remount, because we had returned our old ones, and in the months since some lines had been added and character names had been changed. I checked that number script out to Long in a spreadsheet, so we could track him down if he does not return it after we close.

9:13 Baughman and I talked to Bliss about what we would need to do for fight call for the remount. In the spaces we are remounting in, we will not have as much time to look at the fights and lifts before each show as we did when we performed in November. We decided I would email the cast to get their input on how to cut down on time, since they were the ones who would be missing out on practice.

9:15 Baughman and I began walking around the theatre doing strike: putting up props, putting away furniture, gathering abandoned water bottles, picking up left behind scripts.

9:20 Baughman and I debriefed with Lewis, since Steiner was talking to Bliss. During debrief, we typically ran through each note that would be in the night’s rehearsal report with Steiner. Lewis had been at all of the debriefs with me and the rest of the management for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, since he had been co director, so we figured we would debrief with him instead of waiting on Steiner.

9:30 Baughman and I went back to striking things.

9:42 We emptied the water cooler and left. I sang along to more jams on the way home. I had to stay awake and in a good mood because my work was not over just because I got to go home.

9:50 I got home and took a break: I ate a snack and caught up on my phone.

10:17 I typed up sent out the rehearsal report. From my student email account, I sent the report to all the members of the student production team for them to read, and from the FC Stage Manager email account I sent it to the adult production staff. I decided to take another break, and sat down and read more Game of Thrones.

11 p.m. I replied to more emails. I had gotten eight more over the course of the day that needed replies. Most were from parents of crew members wondering if their kids had to be at rehearsals in the coming days, so I had to check each tech’s cue sheet to see if they were involved in transitions that we would be running in each rehearsal, and then reply to the parent with my findings.

11:23 I started proofreading the program we were planning to use at the Kentucky Center. I had to check for typos on each page, as well as look closely at cast and crew lists to make sure they were totally accurate. I thought gravely of the four thousand people I thought would be reading this program in Whitney Hall. I did not want any typos or mistakes to slip through my fingers for them to read. I had no way to know that this audience would ultimately be in Floyd Central’s auditorium. Even if I had known, I would have combed the words just as closely. It is still a huge honor and privilege to be remounting Newsies before taking it to the International Thespian Festival. Our three sell-out shows speak to the fact that the Louisville community wants to see our show regardless of what venue it is in, or side of the river it is on. I am so thankful for that.

12:06 I finished proofing the program but decided it was too late at night to send the email with my corrections. I brushed my teeth and put on pajamas.

12:23 I read Game of Thrones in bed until I fell asleep. I had to get up at 7:45 the next day, and the day after that, to do it all again.

Newsies was slated to open tomorrow night at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, but because of the recent fire at the Kentucky Center, the show is opening tonight at Floyd Central instead. The sold-out run performs Thursday and Friday at 8 and Saturday at 2 On Sunday, the cast and crew travel to Nebraska to perform the show at the International Thespian Festival. You can follow and support their journey on social media with the hashtag #FCTANewsies.

‘New Voices’ allows students to share talent

By Hannah Tarr

Actors Theatre of Louisville is one of the most renowned theatres in the country. Known nationwide for its Humana Festival of New American Plays, it is every playwright’s dream to someday have their script performed on one of its hallowed stages. For two FC students, that dream has come true already.

Like many FC students, junior Caleb Hammer and sophomore Maddie Hankins were required to write a 10-minute play as part of the New Voices residency, and similarly required to then submit that play into the New Voices Young Playwrights Contest. But unlike any other FC students this year, their plays were selected to be produced in the New Voices Young Playwrights Festival.

According to acting teacher Robbie Steiner, that residency works like this: “Students participate in residencies with teaching artists from Actors Theatre who help them learn how to write their own original 10-minute play. After completing their 10-minute play, it is submitted to the New Voices contest at Actors Theatre of Louisville with approximately another 900 plays from around the region.”

From those 900 plays, only eight are selected. It is therefore a huge honor for two FC students to be winners. To have a chance of being selected, a play has to stand out one way or another in order to catch a judge’s eye.

Hankins’ and Hammer’s plays certainly stand out. Hammer’s, Ahab and His Vegetable Garden, is a modern, comedic version of a little-known Bible story from 1 Kings, Naboth’s Vineyard. Hankins’, Sharing in Solitary, is a story about two prisoners who don’t share on Taco Tuesday, and are accidentally sent into the world of a children’s TV show called Bernadette l’adventurier. They are trapped here until they can learn how to share.

“My play is kind of wacky,” admitted Hankins.

Wacky and unique is good, though.

“I appreciate that Actors Theatre picks a lot of unique stuff, because I think it inspires the new voices of our region,” said Steiner.

Listening to the emerging new voices in theatre is what the New Voices contest is all about.

“Students are the future of theatre, you know?” said Jelani Cornick, director of Hammer’s show. “It’s important for students to write plays and keep writing, because inevitably they’ll be people who are going to be on Broadway someday, or writing TV shows, so it’s important for us to acknowledge that students have voices and they’re very important, and we have to tend and foster these voices that everyone has.”

The students’ involvement with their plays does not end when they write the words LIGHTS DOWN and send their play away to be judged. Once selected, students have the privilege of attending rehearsals to see their writing come to life before their eyes.

Hankins explained how the beginning of the rehearsal process worked. “It’s amazing. I love doing it. It started in March, we had three rehearsals, each of them were about a few hours long,” she said. “We would go, and all of the playwrights, and some of the executives, and all of the dramaturgs and directors were in the room. And we would read our plays aloud. We would get feedback not only from the people from Actor’s Theatre, but from our fellow playwrights.”

With the plays refined, rehearsals got into full swing. Hammer and Hankins attended as many rehearsals as they could to be on hand to answer questions and give opinions as needed by the directors.

“The playwrights, they’re always welcome to give their input or not, anything they see, anything they want to hear, I’m very open to that,” said Cornick. “And just having an open dialogue about the play, you know? And just being honest, and trusting each other that we each know what this play needs to be put on.”

To the students, though, it can come as a surprise to realize that they know what the show needs.

“Sometimes they’ll ask me something and I’m like, ‘I don’t know, I didn’t think about that,’” said Hammer.

Hankins loved moments like that. “This is the coolest thing ever to see- gosh. It’s so cool because I got a phone call and they were like, ‘What are your costumes going to look like? What do want your set to look like?’ These are all things that I had never even thought of when I was writing the play,” she said.

Hammer has loved seeing actors turn his play into something really great by adding their own choices that he never even dreamed of to his script. “The plays on their own, they’re okay, but with the actors doing what they do, they just go to an entire other level,” he said.

Cornick, who is a member of Actors Theatre’s Professional Training Company, says that the only difference between working these students’ scripts and those of adults is that students are new at it.“I don’t really change my language, or like change my attitude,” he said. “I treat everyone as an adult, and I respect the playwright because this is their work and they deserve to have everything that they want out of this play because they wrote it.”

Cornick said he likes to hear the unique perspectives of the young playwrights by working on New Voices.

“I don’t get to always meet young people and meet young artists, so working on the New Voices festival really helps me to communicate with the young artists and see where their minds are and see like what the future of theatre is going to be,” he said. “I’m still young, I’m not like an old guy. But it’s just very refreshing, just to be in the same room with a younger generation that has the same interests as me and I’m very happy to know that theatre is going into the right hands.”

After weeks of preparation, the shows opened last week and were very successful. Hankins said the process has been the most amazing thing she’s ever done in her life. “It’s just so cool to watch something that you’ve written turn into something onstage,” she said.

Students from FC took field trips last week to see their classmates’ work being performed. Steiner said the trip was educational for everyone involved.

“I think that it’s important for students to see other students’ work being performed because it shows them what’s possible, shows them that their own creativity is worthy and is important,” he said.

As audiences watched the shows, Cornick said he hoped they would realize the legitimacy of our area’s new voices. “Young voices matter, and they have a lot to say, and we should all listen to them.”

‘Rampage’ movie leaves audience with mixed feelings

Art by Shelby Pennington

By Reagan O’Farrell

The theater was eerily quiet as the lights went down. Every other seat was occupied, it seemed, by someone who was apparently curious as to just how good or bad this movie was. People were divided either way — a film with big-time actors and a not-so original plot tended to do that.

Rampage, which was released on April 13, has drawn critics and moviegoers to both sides of the line. It was reminiscent of other films like Godzilla or King Kong but attempted to have its own modern twist, being that one of the “bad guys” was actually kind of a “good guy” — this character being the ape itself, an albino gorilla named George.

Upon watching the trailers, people pretty much knew what to expect from the entire movie. For the most part, at least. It was driven primarily by action and comedy — this comedy being a surprisingly unique mixture of absolute childishness and a target aimed directly at adults. Normally, this really should not work. For some reason, it did. This was one of those movies that was almost stupid-funny, whether or not that was that actual intention of the makers of Rampage.

Without its notable actors, however, this movie likely would have been a bit of a mess. Dwayne Johnson played the main character, Davis Okoye, the primary caregiver and best friend of George. Naomie Harris acted as Dr. Kate Caldwell, one of the lead scientists who had a role in incidentally developing the objects responsible for the mutations of George and two other animals. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, recognized for his recent role as Negan in The Walking Dead, played Harvey Russell, a government agent who initiated the attempted capture of George. These are the three actors who prevented the movie from flopping entirely primarily because, despite their poor scripts, they actually managed to somehow pull off their parts.

The plot of the movie, for the most part, was fairly predictable. A genetic experiment gone wrong ends up affecting a few predator species and it is up to Davis and company to fix it. The corporation responsible for the experimentation, Energyne, is corrupt and wants to make money off the disaster — that is, the mutated animals. CEO Claire Wyden, portrayed by Malin Åkerman, is the cool, collected head behind Energyne in contrast with her brother, Brett — played by Jake Lacy — who is a panicky dimwit. While an interesting dynamic, their parts were not written particularly well and it was impossible to take either of them seriously and see them as the threats they were supposed to be. More-or-less, this was made up for in the true threats presented by the mutated animals.

The music behind the film was in accordance with that of any action movie — loud and boisterous for important fight scenes, suave and dark whenever Claire Wyden began to present another aspect of her evil plan, and the likes. It was blended in well enough to hardly be noticeable, but this seemed to be more of an advantage toward Rampage — had the music been more of a forefront, it would have been just another stereotypical action ploy that would have made even the intense scenes a joke.

Rampage has not been getting the best reviews. Despite this fact, it was actually almost worth seeing. The childishness comedy was practically nostalgia, and the ridiculousness of it all was enough to leave a lasting smile on anyone’s face. The actors may not have been casted in an award-winning film by any means, but it honestly looked like they had fun shooting it. It was genuine as much as being genuine was necessary.

Frankly, Rampage was equal parts good and bad, but these dichotomies tied in pretty well to make a halfway decent movie. Really, it was no surprise that the theater was half-full.

It is worth giving Rampage a chance, if only to satisfy one’s own curiosity. From the raw action to the occasionally ill-placed joke, it is a unique film.

FC Bronze Ringers perform in Disney World

By Hannah Tarr

Last Monday, the FC Bronze Ringers shined a light on an otherwise gray and dismal day in Disney World’s Disney Springs. From a lakefront landing called Waterview Park, 13 of the renowned handbell choir members performed Disney hits for the enjoyment of the tourists passing by.

FC was recruited to perform in Disney by Disney Performing Arts. This organization focuses on giving high school performing arts groups the chance to perform in exhibition or competition in their parks, according to handbells director Angela Hampton.

“[Disney Performing Arts] very often will send this stuff out, ‘Hey, bring your group out and play’,” Hampton said.

Interested groups, including the Bronze Ringers, will then send in an application, photographs, and audition tapes. If Disney thinks the group has the ability, they will place the group in a venue.

“Two of the times the handbells have performed in Disney, that venue has been Epcot,” said Hampton. The other two were both in Disney Springs, Disney’s shopping district. All four performances have been in exhibition, though there are competitive festivals a few times a year.

Traveling to Disney was optional for FC handbell students. Of the 40-something Bronze Ringers Hampton said she directs, 13 chose to travel to Orlando over Spring Break to perform.

“I love Disney, and I love handbells,” said senior Isabelle Langford. Because of that, her decision of whether or not to go to Disney was a simple one.

Hampton, a self-described “Disney junkie,” was excited not only for the trip itself, but for the educational value of performing — for both musicians and audience members.

“A lot of people don’t even know what handbells is,” she said. “So we get to kind of show people what it is that we do.”

Most important, though, is the students getting to perform in an entirely different environment than the one they are used to. When performing for family members in Floyds Knobs, it is assumed that the audience will appreciate the performance. But down in Florida, the audience could be entirely critical strangers.

“The exposure outside of that comfortable element is really good, and it makes you better every time,” said Hampton.

The students had a different way of putting it, though. After the performance, sophomores Delaney Bigler and Delaney Agnew agreed on a phrase to describe the performance: “nerve-racking.”

“But we overcame our challenges,” said Bigler. “We just played through.”

Overcoming the challenges that often come with performing was part of the magic of the Spring Break trip, and the challenges didn’t stop there. In the hour leading up to the Bronze Ringers’ performance, there was a rain shower, as there so often is during Florida afternoons. The rain let up just in time, but the performers feared its return.

“I was really nervous about the performance because of the rain threat and the wind,” said Langford. That wind which had come with the storm proved to be a real nuisance. It furiously tore at the performers’ music- so much so that Langford said that at one point, the music of everyone around her flipped to the back page. They were all playing from memory for about a page until she got a chance to flip her music again.

In spite of so many factors working against them, the Bronze Ringers raised their bells in unison as Hampton conducted them to do so. On her cue, they rang their bells in melody and harmony, sending sparkling Disney tunes through the air of Disney Springs, just like Disney magic.

“I think we did a great job,” said Langford. “Plus, we were playing at the happiest place on Earth, which made it even better.”


Students take ‘Charge’ for the One Act Festival this weekend

Photo by Shelby Pennington

By Hannah Tarr

Additional reporting by Eleni Pappas

Every night for the past month, actors and stage managers have been hard at work in Studio One rehearsing two different shows. Anton Chekhov’s The Marriage Proposal and Eric Kaiser’s Charge open tonight in FC’s annual One Act Festival. What might surprise a passerby observing these rehearsals is that not a single adult is involved in either of the shows. Instead, these One Acts are entirely student produced.

FC Theatre is well renowned for its high standard, and students take pride in that reputation. However, Kirsten Gude, the junior who serves as Charge’s stage manager, recognizes that even in this esteemed environment, the phrase “student produced” may be a turnoff for many potential audiences.

“Most times with a show, it’s clearly led by [Robbie] Steiner, [director of theatre arts] and [Sophia Bierman, technical theatre teacher], and people expect it to be good, because those are their jobs,” Gude said.  “But because [these shows are] run by students, most people wouldn’t really expect much. They would just kind of expect a half put together show.”

Gude expects the shows will go against people’s expectations, though. Not only will audiences be impressed with the shows themselves, but they will be impressed with the student production team.

“I think it just shows the audience how independent and responsible the students are within the department,” said Gude. “It just shows the community that Mr. Steiner and Ms. B have taught us and we have taken it upon ourselves to be professionals.”

Director of The Marriage Proposal and senior Josey Waterbury, loves the feeling of knowing that students are able to prove themselves through the One Acts.

“Knowing that you don’t need a teacher involved, and knowing that you can do it. Knowing that it is possible for group of students to come together and make art on the stage,” said Waterbury.

She said that reliance on adults and teachers can inhibit students who try to create art, so it is important that students get the chance to expand and learn in different ways.

Cast member Stevie Griffin, a junior who plays Natalia Stepanova in The Marriage Proposal, agreed that it is a great opportunity for students to learn how to put on their “big girl pants.”

“This is a stepping stone into adulthood,” said Griffin. “A stepping stone into our future, and so I think it’s important for students to see that now and it’s a super good opportunity.”

Junior Connor Nevitt, who plays George in Charge, is a staunch believer in the value of independence because it pays off in the long run.

“It really teaches you the way of being independent because you have to be independent if you want your show to succeed,” he said. He said that the students have learned that lesson, so the shows will be successful.

Gude credits the success of the shows to their organization and well-structured production team. Just like any FC show, there are managers and designers, each with their own assistants. All are organized by a production manager and a technical director, senior David Greenwell. These people make sure that everyone else is getting the information that they need, so the process has been relatively easy as well as enjoyable.

While the technical side of the shows adhere to a strict way of doing things, the one acts have allowed the actors to work in a slightly unconventional way. Many of the performers have noted the importance of their directors being their peers. In a typical show, there is generally a strict rule against actors advising the director about how their or someone else’s character might act. Here, that is not so important. The directors are by no means letting their casts direct for them, but both Waterbury and Charge director Jordan Burger, a senior, have opened the floor up to more collaboration during their rehearsals.

Waterbury loves to learn how her cast members each approach problems differently from what she originally had in mind. She said that she keeps the end result in mind as a director, and the cast think about what they think their character would do. Then, those concepts combine.

“You kind of have to blend that and so the end result is kind of always moving,” said Waterbury.

The entire concept of Burger’s show changed through this collaboration. He had a vision going into the show, but through collaboration he said that has evolved.

“It’s not at all what I’d envisioned in the beginning. And that’s a good thing, because now, as a company, we’ve developed something better than what I originally had in mind. And I think that what we make as a company will be better than anything that any one person can make on their own.”

The casts also enjoy this collaboration. Griffin said she has learned how to be independent as a performer. Nevitt has enjoyed what he considers to be a laid back rehearsal process, but he mostly loves how the cast is able to explore their characters without fear of disrespecting the director.

“We’re all on equal ground and it’s sort of mutually understood throughout that process,” he said.

Burger appreciates Nevitt and his co-stars for their dedication to rehearsing well.

“The rehearsals are so much fun,” he said.“The cast is an absolute delight- they all have these amazing, vibrant personalities, and they’re all putting a really good effort towards the show, they’re all really excited about it. I’m feeling no stress in rehearsals- yet, a least. It’s all just we come in, we’re going to work through a scene, and we’re going to learn something about our characters. And it’s just absolutely delightful.”

Gude, who is required as stage manager to take notes at every Charge rehearsal, said rehearsals have also been her favorite part of the process. Burger finished blocking the show quickly, so the cast has been able to dedicate rehearsal time to diving in and exploring what the characters’ intents are within the show. Gude thinks this is a lot of fun. She is most amused by Burger’s unconventional character work methods: just a few days before she was interviewed, Gude and her assistant stage manager, sophomore Garrett Martin, participated as Burger led the five-member cast in a meditative exercise with all of the lights off.

Meditation may seem like an alien character work tactic to someone accustomed to Steiner’s rehearsals. Burger acknowledges the differences between his and Steiner’s directing ideas, but he doesn’t think they’re important.

“I think it’ll be a new experience for everyone who watches the show. As someone who’s [been directed by] Mr. Steiner, my directing is very different from Mr. Steiner’s,” he said. “Not to say that any one of us is better or worse- I’m sure he’s better, he has more experience- but we have very different approaches to what we do, different thoughts about different shows.”

Burger does think he has one thing over Steiner, though, or even an Academy Award winning director who were to direct Charge– Burger loves Charge.

The reason, I think, this show is going so well so far for me, is because I love the script so much,” he said. “I love the writing, and I love what it’s about. If someone who didn’t feel as deeply for the script tried to do the show, I’m sure they could do it well, but I think it’d be different. I think that as a director, you should only direct a show that you are truly in love with. So that way you’re not just directing to direct, you’re directing because you have something to say onstage. You have something you want to show the audience and share with them.”

Burger does have a message he wants to share with the audience through Charge, as does Waterbury through The Marriage Proposal. In addition to proving to the audience that kids can do anything, both cannot wait to see what audiences think of the shows. Waterbury hopes The Marriage Proposal is fun for the audience.

“Onstage, the actors are having fun, and I want the audience to have fun with it,” she said. “And there is a lesson to be learned from Chekhov, there’s always a lesson to be learned from a show.  But I hope that with this show, after watching all of the shows this year, like Bonnie and Clyde and upcoming Rabbit Hole, there’s such a darkness that has [been] portrayed on stage. And the show is just fun and light and exciting and I hope that people enjoy it.”

The One Act Festival opens tonight, March 16 at 7:30. The Marriage Proposal plays before a 15 minute intermission, followed by Charge. The shows are performed again on Saturday, March 17 at 7:30, and the production closes on Sunday, March 18 after a 2 matinee. Tickets are available at