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BWW Blog: Reflecting on My First Time Directing

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Before graduating from my community class, I took a directing class with a total of six students (counting myself) that ended with the premiere of the one-act plays we directed for the first time. It was incredibly educational, moving, and I am not only grateful for the opportunity but I'm eager to do it again (and again and again!)

It was also a COMPLETE DISASTER and possibly the most stressful production I've ever worked on, and the other five students in the class had similar problems or worse.

Each student had the ability to choose whatever play that they wanted to direct, and I chose The Zoo Story by Edward Albee. Not only do I really enjoy the script and think it is something with so much depth that it could tell a different story with every production, but it also has a small cast of only two men, and it wasn't a very expensive show to get the rights to! The college was covering the costs but details like that were the parts that we were stressed to pay attention to, as if we continue in a directing career then it's stuff like that that could come out of our pockets.

Auditions were not smooth sailing for everyone - all six of us directors were casting from one weekend of auditions and at first I wasn't too worried. Sure, I had only male roles to fill and I didn't expect that many men to audition AND other directors will also be looking at the same cast pool - but I was optimistic.

Until only one guy auditioned. Welp.

This problem was solved by having his TRIPLE-CAST in three plays, and I had called in two friends of mine to fill in and we immediately started our first rehearsal a few days later! Until at that rehearsal, until one of them messaged me five minutes before the start saying that they didn't have the schedule. Okay, I had another friend that I could call in. Until the next rehearsal when my other cast mate got injured and could no longer be a part. Now I'm stressed because I ran out of friends that were open to do the play, but my stage manager pulled through and asked a regular actor from a local theater to volunteer! Thank goodness.

Until! My new replacement, who I asked to be in my play because of a last-minute drop out, dropped out at the last minute!

Let's back up and talk about how the other directors were doing - two of the directors were having trouble getting their play paid for because they had chosen scripts owned by a British theater and the school claimed there was trouble communicating (we never learned what they meant by that). One cast was so passionate about putting on the play that they pulled money together to pay for the rights themselves, and the other director wasn't so lucky. He had to cancel his play.

Lucky for me though! He was cast in my play, with only a week and a half before showtime. Thank goodness it isn't an incredibly wordy play that is a lot to memorize - oh wait (don't worry he did amazing and I almost cried when we were actually able to have a full rehearsal for once).

Even on the first show ever there were still huge problems that required quick thinking. Friday morning, hours before a performance, one of the directors is frantically texting the group chat that her lead actress isn't coming to the performance.

You have got to be KIDDING!

Our beautiful stage manager had the idea of taking an actress from another show (with her permission of course) and play this radio-show style where all the action is mimed, and they got to read their scripts.

Out of this train wreck I learned what might be the most important lesson I ever learned in theatre.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Katelen Hankins