BWW Blog: Directing and Dramaturgy on Ithaca College's 27 WAGONS FULL OF COTTON
Isobel here! I am a sophomore theatre studies major focusing on directing and now dramaturgy at Ithaca College. I finished assistant directing my first show within the theatre arts department, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton by the late and great Tennessee Williams. This show was one of the senior directing projects that is produced in our black box studio. I loved so many aspects of this process and am so incredibly grateful I got this experience.
Part of why this experience was so empowering was it was very student led. This production was really a collaboration between peers. After working on this show, I could see how the relationships I am forming now could lead to the work I will do in the future. Even though everyone working on this project was a student, it still felt like a professional environment, from the production staff and designers to the actors. Some of the best work I have seen is led by our students, so I can't wait to see what my generation does to the theatre world.
Furthermore, it was also incredible to assist someone who had been through the program I am in and see how she worked. I was impressed by her work and the way she used everything that she learned in her classes. The fact that I was able to be in the room and collaborate with her was such a helpful experience.
I was lucky enough to be able to enroll in Directing I while working on this process. In Directing I, I have been learning all of the 5 elements one needs to stage a play: story, intention, character, space, and theme. I was able to use these tools learned in this class when working on these productions. My eye as a director was maturing through both class and rehearsal. It was amazing to learn something in class and then see my director apply that tool in rehearsal. My perspective was valued because I was able to apply the tools I was learning in class in the rehearsal room. My education was really helping me be a better member of the team and a better artist.
In addition to my role as the assistant director, I was also able to take on some dramaturgy as well. The show is set in the 1930s and I learned more about FDR, the new deal, the good neighbor policy, immigration, the depression, and the south than I ever thought I would. I compiled a 60-page dramaturgy packet full of this information and it was super beneficial to the production. I found that I loved doing this work and looking at the play as a holistic world. I am taking dramaturgy next semester and I'm so excited to continue to work on this skill!
The show ran for two weekends and I was so incredibly proud of all the hard work that everyone involved put into it. Next, I'm on to stage managing Twelfth Night through a staged-reading group on campus called "On the Verge." I always like to be moving, doing, and creating.
Photo by Isobel Duncan
Directed by Ashley Brenon: B.A. Theatre Studies '18
Scene Design: Megan Parker: B.F.A Theatrical Production Arts
Lighting Design: Indigo Shea
Pictured: Caroline Maloney (as Flora Meighan) and Will Champion (as Jake Meighan)