Look What I Did: Directing a Second Stage Show, Part 1
As an actor, I’ve always loved working with my extremely talented colleagues at Wesleyan, but the thought of working behind the scenes on a show never really crossed my mind. That all changed after completing the Theater Department’s Directing I course.
Under the guidance of Associate Professor of Theater Yuriy Kordonskiy, seven students, including myself, directed individual scenes throughout the course of an entire semester. Once it was over, I knew I wanted to direct a full scale show to see how the heightened pressure would affect me—and if this might be something I wanted to do after college. Since this marked my first venture into such uncharted territory, to say I was initially nervous would be an understatement. Even before I had selected a show, there were obstacles in my way that nearly discouraged me from even starting.
Choosing a script to direct was more difficult than one might think. Throughout the summer, I read approximately thirty plays suggested to me or found through Amazon. After reading every one of them, I had three titles I was interested in. The first, “Wait Until Dark,” is a murder mystery, a genre I’m particularly fond of. I loved the text and I still think it would have been a brilliant show, a piece that needed to be put up in the ’92 Theater. More on that later. The second choice was “Dog Sees God.” However, as most of you know, this show was already scheduled to go up and was therefore struck from my options immediately.
Last came “Sleuth,” another murder mystery with a particularly small cast. While it was probably my best option, I wasn’t quite sure this was a play I wanted to tackle on my first try out of the gate. Without spoiling anything, the show consists of two men deceiving each other through extremely clever trickery until the very final moments of the show. I’m not sure I would have successfully handled such theatrics. So I was left without a choice and was about to give up completely on directing anything when I was perusing the shelves of Olin and found a title that stuck out to me somehow: “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
This was it: a scathing black comedy with a relatively small cast and a superbly written text. I did some quick research and discovered that it was playwright David Mamet’s most acclaimed and toughest play. For a moment, I reconsidered my choice; I didn’t want to tackle a play too challenging and put together a lousy production. But eventually I settled on the advice of the always wise and inspiring former Visiting Professor of Theater David Jaffe: “Risk, fail, risk again.” If I was going to put up a show, I might as well take the leap of faith, give it my all, and learn from the experience, whatever the outcome may be.
So once I selected a show and finally put together a crew to design the set, get the props, do the costumes, and set up the lights, I was ready to go. Right?
Wrong! Little did I know that Second Stage was about to receive the most applications in the history of itsexistence, and that it was planning to accept every last one of them. This seemed a bit too ambitious to me, but then again, I just made a similar decision by deciding to take on “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Either way, I was left without a space and am currently still searching. Right now, I’m hoping to get the lobby of the new Wesleyan Career Center, but everything is up in the air at this point. Even so, I’ve just finished up auditions and will begin the rehearsal process in the next week or so. The cast is already very excited about the play, and I’m eager to work with these enthusiastic artists on such an incredible show...
Will Richie ever find a space? Will this show prove to be a case of “risk again?” How great is that amount of excitement? Find out on the next installment (coming in a few weeks)!