The Director’s Studio to Begin Wednesday

By Ella Ilg, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Niles West Theatre’s “The Director’s Studio” is a four day long festival of sorts in the Black Box Theater, featuring 18 ten-minute plays, each directed by a student in the Directors’ Studio class.

The Director’s Studio is not only a chance for veteran theatre students to direct their own shows, but also for students who normally wouldn’t have time for theatre to be cast and participate in crew. There are several cast members brand new to the theatre department– or at least the extracurricular portion– since the relaxed, self-created rehearsal schedule is more welcoming to new students.

The sheer number of parts available allowed students who are normally on crew to shine in the spotlight. One of these students is sophomore Liza Kolesnik, who’s been involved since lighting crew since freshmen year, and is now cast in Ryland Narveaz’s show.

“I’ve been trying to be apart of the cast in our school plays since the beginning of freshmen year, and I’m finally there. It feels like a dream come true. I remember watching Machinal from the booth and just wishing I was there with my friends and now, I actually get to be there,” Kolesnik said.

Theatre teacher Andrew Sinclair expressed the importance of the Director’s Studio class.

“In this class, first of all, the curriculum that we use is almost the exact curriculum that I had in my undergrad directing class that I took as an acting major. It’s as college level as we can get without having an AP class in theatre. We study not only the technique of directing and how to coach actors and stage pictures, but also the analysis aspect of how you break down a script and how dramatic structure and things being pieced together help tell a story and build a story to make the audience react.” Sinclair said

Sinclair continues that not only is the class benefiting students that are interested in directing, but also students that enter the class as actors or technicians.

“The most overwhelming thing I hear is that from people who came into the class is they feel directing has made them better actors. By coaching other people and having that kind of bird’s eye view, learning how to break things down, realizing what a director wants, it’s like learning shortcuts as an actor,” Sinclair said. “I think they’ve had a lot of aha moments of ‘oh my goodness those are mistakes I’ve made in the past’, sitting on the flip side you’re able to see those a little better. Same thing with technicians- that idea of sometimes when a director makes a request it seems really radical to a technician or designer of like ‘why do you need this?’ but suddenly on the flip side, you understand those a little better.”

Shannon Berg, a senior and show director, took the class as a way to challenge herself with something new.

“Strangely enough being off stage directing others is even more nerve-wracking because it’s my responsibility, teaching, and leadership that will determine which way the show goes. It is way more stressful to be directing during a performance because at that point there is nothing you can do. You just hope that the actors have taken your notes and your vision comes through to the audience. Basically, you have to trust you did the homework.” Berg said.

However, beyond the stress of directing, there is a good side for Berg.

“The most enjoyable part is definitely the creative control I have over the production and the artistic vision.”

Make sure to head down to the Black Box Wednesday through Saturday to catch some of these great shows Dec. 12-15. There is a 4:30 show every day, with 7:30 performances on Friday and Saturday. The plays vary from comedies to dramas, chosen by the students in class, who also cast their own shows. Tickets are 5 dollars at the door, and half of the proceeds will go to Niles West Theatre’s Thespian Holiday Charity- Connections for Abused Women and Children.