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BWW Blog: How I Became a Director

BWW Blog: How I Became a Director

Hi! I'm Carmel and this is my first blog post here at BroadwayWorld. I'm really excited to have this opportunity to share some of my theatre experiences with the world.

First, let me introduce myself. I'm a junior at UC Berkeley, originally from Sacramento, but I've also lived in Irvine. Last semester I transferred in from community college, so even though I'm a junior I'm still pretty new to university life. To some people's surprise, I am actually not a theatre major. My major is statistics, but I am pretty heavily involved with the theatre scene here at Cal.

Which brings me to this semester. Our Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies department (TDPS) produces 2-3 shows per semester, that range from plays, to musicals, to dance pieces, to new works. One of the productions this semester is a "one acts festival" made up of four short plays from the collection All in the Timing, by David Ives. These are pretty well known plays, and were some of the most performed pieces in the country in the year that they were first published. Each one is about 10 to 20 minutes long, and they are all incredibly witty and hilarious.

Anyway, with this production the department decided to give a directing opportunity to undergraduates. This is a pretty exciting deal because Berkeley, being a research university, is usually more focused on studying theory than on hands-on education. Last semester I was taking the department's directing class, so I applied to direct one of the plays, and fortunately was accepted. It was a pretty crazy situation to suddenly be responsible for a fully-produced show, considering that I had only ever directed two short scenes.

The process started with everyone reading the plays in All in the Timing and writing short proposals for which play they would want to direct. I've read plenty of plays before, but I've never had to read one like a director. I really had to think about which play spoke most to me, and which I thought I could do the most with. I have to admit that it was a pretty stressful experience, because I knew that I would be "stuck" for the next few months with whichever play I chose. At the same time, it was neat to have the power to choose what project I wanted to work on; students don't usually have that privilege.

Eventually I went with "Sure Thing", which is a great little play. The idea is simple. A girl and a guy meet in a coffee shop and start a conversation. Sparks begin to fly. But each time someone says "the wrong thing", something that the other one doesn't like, a bell rings and the conversation resets. Someone mentions an ex - bell rings. Someone went to the wrong school - bell. You get the idea. Eventually the pair realises that none of these little things really matter to them.

The part that I was most looking forward to was casting. Having acted in the past, I could completely understand what was going on inside the heads of the actors who came up one by one to perform their monologues. I know how scary it is to get up on that stage and try to impress a bunch of people you don't know. Being on the other side of the director's table was an extremely eye-opening experience. As actors, we tend to think that if we don't get cast, that means that we didn't give a good enough audition. That's true sometimes, but there are so many more reasons for why one actor gets chosen over another.

For example, I saw plenty of women who could have been great in the role of Betty, but only one or two actors for the role of Bill. That meant that some actresses had to be crossed off the list even though they gave great auditions. An actor I had considered had too many rehearsal conflicts. One of my fellow directors had to pass over an actress who looked too young next to the actor that was cast. My point is this - don't be discouraged if you didn't get the part, because there are a ton of variables that go into casting.

That's it for me for this week. Next time I'll go into the next part of the story: rehearsals. Until then, I'll be reading my script and trying to prepare myself for tech week.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Carmel Suchard

Carmel Suchard is a junior at UC Berkeley, who splits her time between studying statistics and theatre.

  • BWW Blog: How I Became a Director
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