Senior directors enhance their ‘Rep’

Week-long festival includes wide array of student-directed one-act plays


Stella Shenkman

During the student-directed production of “My Mother*%^#ing College Life” on April 1 in the Fine Arts Building Theater, junior Edward Fotinos and sophomore Aydan Howison sit silently onstage while sophomore Dashel Beckett delivers a monologue behind them. Photos by Stella Shenkman.

Jazzabelle Davishines, staff reporter

Throughout February and March, McCallum Theatre worked to create five different productions, four of which were directed by McCallum students. The Rep is an annual week-long festival of one-act plays directed by and starring MacTheatre students.

The Rep is a unique show experience; students direct their fellow classmates, rather than being directed by a teacher or supervisor.

“There is a weird dynamic because in class I am their director,” said Josephine Clarke, one of the student directors. “I am an authority figure that they need to respect and take seriously when I ask them to do something, but as soon as we’re outside of class, I go back to being a friend, who can joke around with them and won’t be hard on them or anything.”

Stella Shenkman
Freshman Finnegan Higginbotham starred as the Aviator in the UIL One-Act Play, “The Little Prince” on April 1. Photo by Stella Shenkman.

Going back and forth between viewing a peer as an authority figure and seeing them as a fellow student presented challenges for the casts of these productions.

“It sometimes is hard to switch between those two, and for the cast to make that switch,” Clarke said. “Because in that room, I’m not just their friend who is playing around, I am trying to make a product. I’m trying to make art. It’s about finding that balance: I am still your friend, who loves and supports you, but I am also not an authority figure, and I need you to take me seriously.”

On April 1, the freshmen of MacTheatre performed their rendition of “The Little Prince,” the tale of a pilot who crashes in the Sahara Desert and meets some mysterious royalty. This production was also recently performed at the UIL One-Act Play Festival. On the same evening, the eighth-period theatre class performed its student-directed production of “My Mother*%^#ing College Life,” a fresh take on the modern college experience directed by junior Eliza Dean-Polacheck with assistant director junior Sam Richter. On April 2, the seventh-period theatre class performed its student-directed production of “Shakespeare in Mind,” a series of vignettes that put a contemporary spin on some of the Bard’s classic plays, directed by senior Nicholas Heinen with assistant director sophomore Magnus Bohls. On April 3, MacTheatre performed the first of two student-directed musicals. Directed by juniors Tosh Arora and Sam Richter, “The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip” is a whimsical tale of parasites from the sea that wreak havoc on the small village of Frip, leaving the fate of the town up to one girl.


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STUDENTS DIRECT STUDENTS: Students gather to view the first day of the annual MacTheatre Student Directed Festival. Tonight, two one-act shows premiered: The freshman theatre one students performed their UIL competition piece, “The Little Prince,” directed by Joshua Denning and guest director Robin Antil. Following “The Little Prince” was the eighth-period student-directed performance of “My Mother #*!^%#! College Life” directed by juniors Eliza Dean-Polacheck and Sam Richter and technical directed by junior Lilah Guaragna. The shows will continue every night this week in the FABT theater from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. premiering two different shows each night. Photos by Stella Shenkman. #dayinthelifeofmac #studentdirected #mactheatre @mactheatremfaa

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Every year, there is one student-directed musical that also has a book, music and lyrics written entirely by a student. The process of creating an original work independently as a team of students can be a daunting endeavor.

“Writing the music is difficult because you have to come up with someone entirely from scratch,” senior member of the writing team Matthew Hernandez said. “It’s also challenging to collaborate with the book team, which is hard because you’re not involved with what they’re doing, and you have to create one piece together.”

On April 4, the thespians performed the second student-directed musical, “The Waiting Room.” Directed by Josephine Clarke and assistant directed by Meiriona Maddy, “The Waiting Room” is the original musical written entirely by MacTheatre students. “I directed a musical last year, ‘One Good Day,’” Clarke said. “But this is a totally different experience because this show is student-written. So we’re taking these songs that I’ve heard plunked out on the piano so many times, and words that I’ve read so many times that they’ve lost so much meaning, but then I give it to the cast, and they run with it, and they do so many unique things that I never pictured.”

The student directors also faced specific challenges due to time restraints. The rehearsal process for the student-directed shows is significantly shorter than most mainstage productions. This gives directors less time to solidify their visions and bring them to the stage. Time contraints can also limit actors by giving them fewer rehearsals and less time to learn their lines and music.

“The amount of time we had was very short,” said junior director Tosh Arora. “The score is really difficult and intricate, and the music doesn’t help the actors to learn their parts.”

The experience of participating in a student-directed production provided a unique opportunity for student leadership and teamwork in theatre. MacTheatre students can work together independently to create their own productions, which they otherwise would not be able to do.

“I think the most exciting thing is getting to work with the breadth of my class,” senior director Nicholas Heinen said. “It’s nice to be able to interact with everyone in the class for once.”